Amazon.com buys J.K. Rowling tales for $4 million

Fri Dec 14, 2007 7:14am EST
 
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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Amazon.com Inc, the Web retailer known for selling books, said it had paid about $4 million to buy a handwritten, illustrated book of wizardry by "Harry Potter" author J.K. Rowling.

Sotheby's on Thursday held an auction for the book called "The Tales of Beedle the Bard," which was mentioned in the last Potter book as having been left to Harry's friend Hermione by their teacher, Albus Dumbledore.

London dealer Hazlitt, Gooden and Fox had the winning bid of 1.95 million pounds ($3.98 million) on behalf of Amazon.com.

All proceeds from the sale will go to the Children's Voice, a charity Rowling co-founded in 2005 to help vulnerable children across Europe.

There are just seven copies of "The Tales," bound in brown Moroccan leather and decorated in silver and moonstones. Rowling gave six copies of the book to people closely connected to the Harry Potter books and auctioned off the seventh.

"'The Tales of Beedle the Bard' is really a distillation of the themes found in the Harry Potter books," Rowling wrote in the sale catalog.

Of the five stories in the 157-page book, only one, "The Tale of the Three Brothers," is told in the Potter novels. It appears in the final Potter book, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows."

Amazon.com has posted several pictures of the book -- which it handles with white gloves -- and a review of one tale called "The Wizard and the Hopping Pot" on the Web site www.amazon.com/beedlebard. The company plans to post reviews of all five tales.

"Even before establishing her charity," Amazon.com Chief Executive Jeff Bezos said in a statement late on Thursday, "J.K. Rowling had done the world a rare and immeasurably valuable service -- enlarging forever our concept of the way books can touch people -- and in particular children -- in modern times."

(Reporting by Emily Chasan; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)

 
<p>A Sotheby's employee holds a hand-written copy of 'The Tales of Beedle the Bard' by J.K. Rowling at Sotheby's auction house in central London November 20, 2007. Amazon.com said it had paid about $4 million to buy the handwritten, illustrated book of wizardry by Rowling. REUTERS/Alessia Pierdomenico</p>