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The Magic Word

I browsed in the bookstore but it wasn�t easy. I flattened myself against the shelves to avoid the constantly moving crowd that knocked neatly stacked paperbacks onto the floor. A few hundred voices started a 10-second countdown to midnight, while a dozen feet away a pair of pre-teen girls held hands and jumped up and down, squealing.

This scene, of course, comes from the July release of the sixth in the series of Harry Potter books. I fell for the well-written tales of good and evil witches and wizards three years ago, while reading the first volume to my daughter. This time I had to wait while she raced through the 672 pages on her own.

What I find more magical than the Harry Potter stories is the notion that a book can fill buildings around the world with rowdy crowds anxious to read. Pop culture enthusiasm for the written word eases some of the distress of knowing that too many people can�t read at all, or of watching kids tune out the world to stare into handheld video games.

For decades I�ve heard predictions of doom for the printed word. Books, magazines, and newspapers would disappear in favor of cable TV, then computers, then short attention spans, then the Internet.

But we�re still here.

Survival does require change. Even the Harry Potter phenomenon makes clever use of marketing. Here at Kentucky Living, we work to know what readers want by paying attention to what you tell us in your letters through the U.S. Postal Service, as well as through the innovation of the Internet.

So send us a note at snail speed or cyber speed. Visit a bookstore. Or read to your children and get them started on the longest and latest tradition: reading and writing.

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