Final Chapter
Bookstores, libraries gearing up for Potter fans

It seems everyone has a theory on how the series will end. But there's still one long week to wait before anyone knows Harry Potter's fate for sure.

"A lot of people seem to be thinking that Harry will die, but that's just one idea being thrown out there," said Winnie Sykora, a manager at Barnes and Noble bookstore at the Mall of Georgia. "Other people think that Harry will live and other characters will die. There are a lot of crazy theories being tossed around. I'm not making up my mind either way yet."

Until Saturday, when "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" is to be released, no one will know for certain the destiny of the famed wizard. One thing readers can bank on, though, is that throngs of loyal Potter fans will be heading out to area bookstores and libraries to get their copies of the final installment of J.K. Rowling's series.

"We're expecting big crowds," said Joan Dudzinski, general manager for the Borders bookstore at the Mall of Georgia. "We have a midnight release party every year, and it's always big. I think this year will be the biggest ever, what with all the debates over how it will end. We're very excited."

Whether they're dressed in Gryffindor's gold or Slytherin's green, incognito party-goers are staples at most Potter parties. Adults and kids alike are expected, and encouraged, to don Harry's signature styles. Costume contests are planned at most bookstores, and patrons in the best getups will receive prizes.

"Our store employees dress up, too," Dudzinski said. "I'm planning to dress up, but I don't know yet which character I want to be."

Upon entry into area Barnes and Noble locations, children will be sorted by the Sorting Hat and placed into teams. At the end of the night, the team with the most points will win the Hogwarts House Cup.

"We've done that in past years and it's always a fun little thing," Sykora said.

Potter-mania has spread to the local library branches in Gwinnett, too. The Five Forks and Suwanee branches will screen the first four "Harry Potter" films during events that will also include Potter trivia.

"We all love Harry," said Eddie Suttles, Gwinnett County Public Library spokesman. "What do I think will happen? Well, I have my theories, but maybe I shouldn't say."

Not all area booksellers will be celebrating the release of the final Potter novel. As expected, area Christian bookstores, such as Lifeway and Family Christian Stores, will not be holding Harry Potter events or selling the books. (One location laughed at the idea when asked by the Daily Post, but said they appreciated the call.)

Books for Less, with locations in Snellville and Lawrenceville, will not be hosting Potter events, though the stores will offer discounts for readers who preorder the book.