Rowling's New Harry Potter Book Due July 16

12/21/2004 at 08:00 AM EST

Rowling's New Harry Potter Book Due July 16
J.K. Rowling
Mark Stewart/Camera Press/Retna
It's done, author J.K. Rowling says of the sixth book in her teen wizard series, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Her American publisher, Scholastic Press, announced Tuesday that it will go on sale July 16, 2005.

"I know you all expected this (announcement) to happen on Christmas Day, but I was sure that those of you who celebrate Christmas have better things to do on the day itself than fight your way into my study, whereas those of you who DON'T celebrate Christmas would definitely prefer not to wait until the 25th," Rowling, 39, writes in a message posted on her Web site.

The author, who gave birth to her second child last year and is due to deliver her third next year (daughter Jessica was born in 1993), says that her current pregnancy has given her the time "needed to tinker with the manuscript to my satisfaction. ... I am as happy as I have ever been with the end result. I only hope you feel it was worth the wait when you finally read it."

Rowling has said there will ultimately be seven installments. The last book, the 870-page Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, was published in the summer of 2003. Rowling hasn't revealed how long the new book will be.

What is known about book six, according to clues provided by Rowling (full name: Joanne Kathleen), is that one character will die, though it will not be Harry – whom she's vowed to keep alive until the final installment, at least. Whether he makes it to the end of the finale remains to be seen.

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