A handwritten book of fairy tales by J.K. Rowling was auctioned off for more than $4-million (Cdn) yesterday, and U.K. newspapers were full of speculation this morning as to who the deep-pocketed buyer was.
As The Times Online reported:
An anonymous collector, bidding through a dealer who usually specialises in Old Masters, paid £1.95 million for The Tales of Beedle the Bard, a 160-page Potter spin-off of five wizarding fairytales that relate to his final adventure. The proceeds will go to the charity Children’s Voice. […] The Tales was estimated to go for between £30,000 and £50,000.
As the Sotheby’s auctioneer opened the bidding, a white-gloved porter held up the book at the front of the room. There were five or six players, all concealing their identity by bidding through someone in the room or through a member of Sotheby’s staff on the phone. At £1 million, there was applause from the room, and murmurings of astonishment as six-figure increases were tossed around the rooms.
A few children in the saleroom jumped with excitement as the hammer came down on the final bid, but the man at the back who bought it could not have looked more miserable as he scurried off into the street muttering no comment.
After most of the U.K. papers went to press, however, the buyer was revealed as none other than Amazon.com. As the CBC reports:
Amazon revealed later on Thursday that it had crossed over from the sales side to become buyer for the rare tome, with a spokesman saying the company is planning to take The Tales of Beedle the Bard on tour through libraries and schools.
The company has also posted on its website a host of large, close-up photos of and from the book ” for which Rowling also created the illustrations ” as well as staff reviews of the tales inside. Staffers will also answer questions fans have about the book via an online discussion board.
You can see the Amazon reviews here, but if you think they’re going to have anything remotely critical to say, you’ve got another thing coming. Just a sample:
So how do you review one of the most remarkable tomes you’ve ever had the pleasure of opening? You just turn each page and allow yourself to be swept away by each story. You soak up the simple tales that read like Aesop’s fables and echo the themes of the series; you follow every dip and curve of Rowling’s handwriting and revel in every detail that makes the book unique “ a slight darkening of a letter here, a place where the writing nearly runs off the page there. You take all that and you try and bring it to life, knowing that you will never be able to do it justice.