The publishers have kept a tight lid on J.K. Rowling's first novel for adults, "The Casual Vacancy." They've dribbled out information in tantalizing (or frustrating) drops: First, the title. Then, a few months later, the jacket cover.

But not the book itself. Oh, no. Where most publishers send out advance copies several months early, in this case publishers have been absolutely silent.

A week or so before pub date, they invited one or two hand-picked reporters to come to their offices in London and read the book, on sight They were told not to take notes.

In the U.S., a few--a very few--critics were allowed an advance copy, but only after signing agreements that they would not leak a single word about the book until pub date. (And apparently the agreements also stipulated that the agreement itself must remain secret.)

Pub date! It's tomorrow!

Bookstores in the Twin Cities have copies ready to sell, but none that I talked to said they were planning any kind of events, or midnight sales, or extended hours. The stacks of books will be there when the bookstores open on Thursday, and you can go and buy them. (And given that Thursday's pub date also, oddly, has a pub time--4 a.m. Twin Cities time--it'd be pretty hard for a bookstore to adjust its hours for early sales anyway.)

I don't know about you, but--much as I love books, and bookstores--it would take a lot to get me to visit one at 4 in the morning. After all, the books will still be there five hours later.

And it's possible that it won't be flying off American bookstore shelves anyway. In an interview with USA Today (the only interview she granted to the American press), Rowling said that her book is very English and might not appeal as strongly to American readers. "I think there's a possibility that some people will not enjoy the book," she told USA Today reporter Carol Memmott. "It is a very English book, and it needs to be a very English book, because I'm talking very specifically about a society I know very well."

"The Casual Vacancy" is set a small English town and focuses on empoverished families in a housing project. Unlike her Harry Potter books, it's grittier, with drugs and sex and prostitution.

Will I be reading it? Sure. I'm curious. (Though I have to confess I only read one of the Harry Potter books--whichever one had snakes slithering in a bathroom drain.) Will you? Take our poll.

Oh, and in one more instance of doling-out-of-information, Rowling said today that she would like to write for children again, and she's not ruling out another book set in the world of Harry Potter.

Now that might prompt bookstores to open up at midnight.

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