OREM Teens and adults who devoured the seventh and final Harry Potter book last month sank their teeth into "Eclipse" this week.
The book by Brigham Young University graduate Stephenie Meyer is so hot it knocked "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" out of first place on the national Barnes & Noble fiction best-seller list.
Strong sales were expected because the first book in Meyer's series, "Twilight," is No. 1 on the New York Times best-seller list for children's paperback chapter books, and the second book, "New Moon," is No. 1 on the Times' hardback list.
But the release of "Eclipse" turned into a publishing phenomenon that surprised everyone from the book buyer at the BYU Bookstore, which sold 400 copies in the first two hours on Tuesday, to the book's publisher Little, Brown Books which hoped to sell 40,000 copies on the first day only to see 150,000 fly off the shelves.
"I've been in the business for 20 years, and I've never seen anything like this," publisher Megan Tingley told Wall Street Journal.
Utah booksellers and libraries can't keep up with the demand as readers thirst to learn which of two boys heroine Bella Swan will choose, the werewolf or the vampire.
And if she falls for the vampire, will she choose to remain human or to become a vampire herself?
Utah booksellers and librarians say demand in the state is magnified because of Meyer's tie to BYU and her membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, though the book is set in Washington, not Utah or Meyer's home state of Arizona, and doesn't mention religion.
The BYU Bookstore sold all 500 copies it had on Tuesday. BYU has ordered 500 more copies but won't get them for a week or more.
"We knew we'd sold scobs of the other two books, but we didn't expect this," said Janice Card, teen and children's book-buyer at the BYU Bookstore. "I wish we'd ordered 1,000 to begin with. We've had a lot of disappointed people come in."
It seems to workers that every other time the phone rings at the Barnes & Noble, the caller asks about "Eclipse."
"We had more than 1,000 people come to the midnight release party to pick up the book," department manager Shannyn Weaver said.
That was just the beginning. The national book chain has made it a priority to get books to the Orem store because it has sold more copies of "Eclipse" than any book in Utah and Idaho and has more reservations for the book than any other store in the chain .
The store is in a daily scramble, with hundreds of new books shipped in each day while hundreds of new reservations pour in at the same time. As soon as the books come in, store employees call desperate readers.
"With Harry Potter, the publisher printed enough books," Weaver said. "With this, not enough books were printed, so we're working hard to get enough books for everyone."
The Davis County library system ordered nearly 100 books because patrons had placed 500 holds for "Eclipse" before it came out, said Trudi Cooper, the system's youth services coordinator.
"Stephenie Meyer knows how to put a story together that makes you want to turn the next page to see what's going to happen," Cooper said.
Readers who want to get the first two books won't find them on the shelves at the seven Davis County library branches, either. All the copies of "Twilight" and "New Moon" are on hold, too. The best they can do is get in line on the waiting list.
Cooper said the 33-year-old Meyer's LDS Church membership led to a funny moment this week when someone came in and asked for "the LDS vampire series."
While Meyer steers clear of religion in the books, she openly talks about it on her Web site, and stories about the books regularly mention it, including a Friday piece in the Wall Street Journal in which Meyer said her characters tend to think about where they came from and where they are going, and that she won't write about gratuitous sex.
Her religion also leads to comments like those that will be published Sunday in the New York Times Book Review.
"What subversive creature could dream up a universe in which vampires and werewolves put marriage ahead of carnage on their to-do lists?" asks reviewer Liesl Schillinger. "The answer, of course, is a writer of steamy occult romantic thrillers who happens to be a wholesome Mormon mother of three a category of one, solely occupied by Stephenie Meyer.
"Lucky for her," the review continued, "while her religion's teachings may frown on caffeine and alcohol for humans, the Word of Wisdom has a flexible attitude toward human blood for monsters; and there's no ban on big love in the mythical world."The fourth book, "Breaking Dawn," is due in fall 2008. Meyer has said there will be more than four books.
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