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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Fans Haunt Stores for Final Potter Installment

APA group of Harry Potter aficionados brandishing a copy of the latest book at Respublika early Saturday morning.
Spoilers and a pre-dawn release did not deter Harry Potter fans from making the late night trek Friday to local bookstores to purchase "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," the seventh and final book in the series.

The long awaited release of the bestselling phenomenon was honored by bookstores, including Respublika, which is open 24 hours, and Moskva, which stayed open for the 3 a.m. release.

Fans lined up worldwide as stores tweaked their opening hours for the event, and the J.K. Rowling book broke pre-release records with Amazon.com, selling over 2 million copies before Friday.

Only a handful of copies remained at Moskva by Saturday morning, while at Respublika it was out of stock by around 10 a.m.

The novel was posted on the Internet five days before the release. Russian fans already had managed to translate parts of it and post excerpts on the http://freez.hpworld.ru forum.

The new release is much darker than the first six, and Rowling had warned readers to expect the death of several key characters. In order to help children deal with this loss, extra staff members were working at Childline, a British hotline to help children cope with trauma, The Guardian reported.

The late-night release, the dark content of the book and the fact that the official Russian translation was not expected until November might explain, in part, why the vast majority of enthusiasts waiting in line were adults.

The pointed-hat-wearing staff at Respublika, on Tverskaya Ulitsa, tried to inspire crowds with competitions for best dressed, but one hour prior to the release it looked like they had made much more effort than their customers, who were watching Harry Potter films in the store's mini movie theater.

Denis, a spokesman for Respublika who refused to give his last name, said the shop had expected at least 50 people and that pre-orders for the novel had reached 600.

"I am dressed as someone from Slytherin, from Draco Malfoy's family," said Natalya Muradiyeva, 21, who was wearing a witch hat and a green-and-white striped scarf. With their midnight arrival, she and her sister were the first in line.

The atmosphere at the Moskva bookstore, also on Tverskaya Ulitsa, was much more chaotic. Few were in costume, but it was almost impossible to move among the estimated 300 fans.

Some residents living above the bookstore did not share in the revelers' celebration and began splashing buckets of water on noisy fans outside at around 3:30 a.m.

Though Moskva did not take pre-orders, it wanted to reward the enthusiasts who had made the effort to come out, so they ordered 1,000 books, priced at 1,001 rubles (about $40) each.

When the clock struck three, the promised live telecast of J.K Rowling reading the first chapters fell victim to a technical glitch and the first countdown failed to make the books materialize. After several anti-climactic countdowns, they started to chant "book, book, book" until the staff arrived with boxes in hand.

The first person to hold a book flipped straight to the epilogue at the back and announced the death of one central character; the fans behind him cheered.

Tatyana Braktina, 33, was waiting in line to pay when she peeked at the last few pages. "I couldn't help myself, I read the spoilers and wanted to confirm them," she said. "They are all true."

Many did not want to deal with the line to the register and nestled themselves into corners of the bookstore to discover the fate of Harry and his friends.

At Moskva, Oleg Sheremetov, 19, dressed as Harry Potter, said he had been at the store since 11 p.m. "You could say I grew up with Harry Potter," he said. He was wearing a yellow-and-maroon tie with blazer, with Gryffindor (Harry's house) badges sewn onto the outfit. He said he wore the same costume to the premier of the film "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," the night before.

Although he said his English was a little lacking, Sheremetov plans to read the book with a dictionary until the Russian version comes out.

"I started reading the spoilers yesterday, but I stopped because I didn't like what I read," he said. "I've waited two years for this book, I can wait an extra day to read the real ending."