SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – In 2012, Harry Potter fans rejoiced when Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron declared that May 2 would forevermore be known as International Harry Potter Day.
In the story, the Battle of Hogwarts, the war between the Order of the Phoenix and Lord Voldemort, concluded on May 2, 1998.
Written by J.K. Rowling, the first book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, was released in 1997. The name was changed to “Sorcerer’s Stone” in the United States, India, and the Philippines. The popularity of the series would spawn several sequels, films, a theme park, retail stores, themed escape rooms, and merchandise.
The final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, holds the Guinness World Record for the most novels sold within 24 hours of release. It sold over 500 million copies.
Springfieldian Heidi Bechard owns at least 15 of those copies. She says she has a bookshelf’s worth of copies from all over the world.
“I read Harry Potter for the first time when Sorcerer’s Stone was first released in the US. I was 11 and so was Harry. Harry and his friends became my friends and revisiting the books is like visiting with friends.” says Bechard. “It’s very nostalgic for me.”
Bechard happened to run across a picture of the Czech version of Philosopher’s Stone and says she fell in love with it.
“I spent years looking for it until I finally found a copy. It’s nearly impossible to find, even in the Czech Republic. It’s my favorite book in my collection, even now.” says Bechard.
She says that began her journey into collecting others that had beautiful colors. Even ones that aren’t in English.
“The collecting is almost as fun as reading the books because I have met people all over the world who are translation collectors too and we help each other find these books,” she says.
Bechard explained that Harry Potter speaks to every generation and that statistics show that literacy has increased because of it.
Here’s a look at her some of the books in her collection: