A Mystery Buyer purchased the only publically-available copy of JK Rowling's latest Harry Potter book, Tales of Beedle the Bard for Â£1,950,000 (US$3.98 million)! This is far more than the Â£50,000 ( $100,000) sale price that had been estimated by Sotheby's. The leather-bound and hand-written book was bought by a representative from London fine art dealers, Hazlitt Gooden & Fox. The proceeds generated by the sale of this book will benefit Rowling's new charity, The Children's Voice, which works to protect the rights of mentally ill children and teenagers across Europe, particularly in Eastern Europe, where these children often live in deplorable conditions.
It was just revealed that the Mystery Buyer was the American bookseller, Amazon.com.
[this video shows close-ups of the book itself and the frontispiece is read; 0:46]
"I am stunned and ecstatic," exclaimed Rowling, who watched the Sotheby's auction from her home in Edinburgh, Scotland. "This will mean so much to children in desperate need of help. It means Christmas has come early to me."
"The price achieved today stands as the highest price ever achieved at auction for a modern literary manuscript, an auction record for a work by JK Rowling, and an auction record for a children's book," said a spokesman for Sotheby's.
The 157 page book is bound in brown Morocco leather, is mounted with hand-chased sterling silver ornaments and seven moonstones. It was illustrated in pen and ink by Rowling herself (see above and below).
Rowling, whose Harry Potter books have sold nearly 400 million copies worldwide and been translated into 64 languages, wrote the Beedle tales after finishing the seventh and final work in the Potter series. She created seven copies of Beedle the Bard, but she gave the other six copies to certain unnamed individuals, who were key to the success of the Potter series. Because each book was handcrafted and written, each book is unique.
Tales of Beedle the Bard is a collection of stories that played an important role in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Scholastic, 2007), the last installment of Rowling's extraordinarily successful series. Beedle the Bard was a gift left by headmaster Albus Dumbledore to Harry's friend Hermione.
"'The Tales of Beedle the Bard' is really a distillation of the themes found in the Harry Potter books, and writing it has been the most wonderful way to say goodbye to a world I have loved and lived in for 17 years," Rowling said in a statement.
"Even before establishing her charity, JK 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," said Amazon's founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos.
"When we deliver Harry Potter, kids are camped out at the post box, and the drivers get hugs."
Amazon promises reviews of all five tales included in Beedle the Bard (they already have one review online) and plans to "take the book on tour to libraries and schools so that kids can get a look at the magic in the Bard's own handwriting."
[this video shows close-ups of the book, including some shots of the book cover being created, and includes a short interview with Rowling; 3:55]
Congratulations, Jeff and Amazon! I am so pleased that you are sharing this gorgeous object with the public!
Amazon (images, quotes, reviews, and general excitement)
The Press Association (quotes).
School Library journal (quotes).
I am pleased that J. K. Rowling is the world's first billionaire novel author, and has done so much for children.
I have to wonder, not having all the data: how many dollars per LETTER did this book cost in auction?
Has to be the best word rate in professional writing history.
Meanwhile, let us not forget that thousands of members of Writers Guild of America, West, will continue to be out of work throughout the holiday season, thanks to the Grinches and/or Valdemorts among Producers.
wow, jonathan, i am honored that you commented on my humble blog! i was so jealous of everyone else here because you comment on their blogs, but you've only once commented here! does this mean i should write more about handwritten books authored by millionaire writers? oh, wait, there's only one such writer in the history of the world, and i write about her more than anyone else on ScienceBlogs .. okay, so you'll have to let me know what compelled you to comment here.
Just to nit-pick :o)
I'm sure that J. K. Rowling doesn't consider herself a billionaire just yet as she uses Pounds Sterling not US dollars.
In US dollars her numbers are rising due to the sinking dollar, whilst my real wages are falling as I'm paid in US dollars :o(
Oh well, when there are 3 US dollars to the Pound Sterling (2009 sometime is my guess) I'll really start to worry, and JKR will be a US dollar billionaire and a half.