J.K. Rowling back in stores with charity book

Tue Dec 2, 2008 6:55am EST
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By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters) - A new book by British author J.K. Rowling, her unofficial farewell to the adventures of boy wizard Harry Potter which made her the world's wealthiest writer, goes on sale on Thursday.

Proceeds from "The Tales of Beedle the Bard," expected to become an international bestseller even though the seven-book Potter series is over, will go to a charity for vulnerable children in Eastern Europe co-founded by Rowling.

Beedle the Bard is a collection of five fairy tales and is mentioned in the final Potter book "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" as having been left to the boy wizard's friend Hermione Granger by Albus Dumbledore, headmaster of Hogwarts school.

Only one of the five stories -- "The Tale of the Three Brothers" -- was recounted in the Potter book, and the volume contains clues that were to prove crucial to Potter's final mission to destroy Lord Voldemort.

Indicating the interest the new book is likely to generate with Potter fans young and old, one of seven hand-written, illustrated copies of Beedle the Bard made by Rowling fetched $4 million at auction a year ago.

Online book store Amazon, which bought that copy, is printing up to 100,000 collector's' editions costing $100, and the global print run will be around 7.5 million copies.

Bloomsbury will distribute the book in Britain and Scholastic in the United States.

Publishers and retailers give all net profits to the chosen charity once their costs are covered, and retailers who sell the book at a discount -- a common practice with the Potter series as stores fought for market share -- do so at a loss.   Continued...

<p>British author J.K. Rowling poses at The South Bank Show Awards at Dorchester Hotel in London January 29, 2008. REUTERS/Anthony Harvey</p>