The online bookseller Amazon revealed today that it had paid almost £2 million for a unique volume of fairytales written and illustrated by JK Rowling to thank the author for her contribution to literature.
The Tales of Beedle the Bard, which fetched £1.95 million at a frenzied Sotheby’s auction yesterday, will not be resold, however. Instead Amazon hopes to enable as many people as possible to enjoy the book by performing readings around the UK.
Amazon, which was represented at the auction by Hazlitt, Gooden and Fox, the London art agents, now owns one of just seven copies of the handcrafted book, and the only one to be sold on the open market rather than given to family and friends.
Bound in Moroccan leather with silver mounts and adorned with moonstones, the book is written and illustrated in a deep blue ink, Miss Rowling’s handwriting sloping gracefully across pages of crisp antique paper.

The proceeds of the sale, at a price far surpassing Sotheby’s original estimate of a mere £50,000, are to go to a Children's Voice, a charity for institutionalised children co-founded by the author.
"“Even before establishing her charity, JK Rowling had done the world a rare and immeasurably valuable service, enlarging forever our concept of the way books can touch people - and in particular children - in modern times,” said Jeff Bezos, the Amazon founder and chief executive whose company is responsible for a significant proportion of the 400 million copies sold of Rowling's Harry Potter series.
“The company bought the book as a thank you for everything JK Rowling has done for literature, and for encouraging children to read and for parents to read with their children,” added Damien Peachy, a spokesman for Amazon.co.uk, said. “We wanted to celebrate that.”
Amazon is now investigating how to convey the book’s five fairytales to a wider audience without infringing any of the copyright issues surrounding the unpublished work.
“We want to enable people to see it and to hear the fantastic stories, and one of the things we’re looking at is doing readings in schools,” Mr Peachy said.
The auction sparked feverish scenes at Sotheby’s, with the standing-room-only crowd applauding fiercely as bidding topped the £1 million mark, and again when it stopped just £50,000 short of £2 million.

The price is the highest ever achieved at auction for a modern literary manuscript, an auction record for a work by JK Rowling and an auction record for a children’s book.
“We have to reach back 80 years to find a comparison when we sold the manuscript of“Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” on behalf of the original Alice,” Philip Errington, Sotheby's book expert, said.
The volume of five fairytales was produced by Rowling, 42, as a final farewell to her magical hero, Harry Potter.
It is intended as the real-life version of the book that Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts, bestows to Hermione Granger, one-third of Potter’s evil-fighting trio, in the seventh and final book in the series, Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows.
It contains clues to aid Harry and his friends in their quest to defeat the Lord Voldemort, an evil wizard of extraordinary powers who killed Harry's parents.
Amazon has already posted a review of the first fairytale, The Wizard and the Hopping Pot, on its UK website, and plans to follow with the remaining four in due course.
Describing the experience of seeing, holding and reading the book, the pages of which are crisp, Daphne Durham, critic, says: “Let’s just start with one word: ‘Whoa.’”

She likens Rowling's handwriting to “the familiar scrawl of a favourite aunt,” – not difficult to read yet requiring attention, “allowing you to take it slow and savour the mystery of each next word.”
“You soak up the simple tales that read like Aesop's fables and echo the themes of the series; you follow every dip and curve of Rowling's handwriting and revel in every detail that makes the book unique - a slight darkening of a letter here, a place where the writing nearly runs off the page there.”
Of the five stories in the book only one, The Tale of the Three Brothers, is told in the seventh Harry Potter book, which became the fastest-selling book ever when it was published in July this year.
In a dedication at the front of the book, Rowling writes: “Six of these books have been given to those most closely connected to the Harry Potter books during the last 17 years.
“This seventh copy will be auctioned, the proceeds to help institutionalised children who are in desperate need of a voice.”
“So, to whoever now owns this book, thank you - and fair fortune be yours!”

Amazon says it bought £2m Rowling book as "thank you" - Times Online
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