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Harry Potter is getting a new look - or at least new book covers.

On Wednesday, J.K. Rowling's American publisher, Scholastic, unveiled a new cover for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, the first of seven new covers that will appear on paperback editions of the series in September.

The new covers, each focusing on a scene from that novel, are designed by Kazu Kibuishi, author and illustrator of the graphic novel series Amulet. Their release will mark the 15th anniversary of the U.S. publication of Sorcerer's Stone, which started the series that went on to sell 450 million copies worldwide.

In an interview, Ellie Berger, president of Scholastic Trade Publishing, says the new covers aren't meant to replace the original ones by Mary GrandPré, which still will be used on hardcovers and less expensive mass-market paperback editions.

But, she says, "we thought it was time for a fresh approach" for the trade paperbacks "as of a way of attracting the interest of a new generation of 8- and 9-year-olds who may know Harry mostly through the movies."

Scholastic doesn't provide yearly sale figures for the series, which remains popular but far from the top of the best-seller lists it once dominated.

Last Christmas, Sorcerer's Stone hit No. 182 on USA TODAY's Best-Selling Books list; the box set of all seven books was No. 281. All seven titles have been No. 1, including the final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, in 2007.

In a statement released by Scholastic, Kibuishi, who was born in Tokyo and immigrated to the USA as a child, says that GrandPré's covers "are so fantastic and iconic" that "when I was asked to submit samples, I initially hesitated because I didn't want to see them reinterpreted. However, I felt that if I were to handle the project, I could bring something to it that many other designers and illustrators probably couldn't, and that was that I was also a writer of my own series of middle-grade fiction.

"As an author myself, I tried to answer the question, 'If I were the author of the books - and they were like my own children - how would I want them to be seen years from now?' When illustrating the covers, I tried to think of classic perennial paperback editions of famous novels and how those illustrations tend to feel. In a way, the project became a tribute to both Harry Potter and the literary classics."

Scholastic also announced that in November, it will release the first box set of the complete Hogwarts Library, including Quidditch Through the Ages, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and The Tales of Beedle the Bard. Sales of the Hogwarts Library will support two charities: Lumos, which was founded by Rowling and works to end the institutionalization of children, and Comic Relief, which is aimed at creating a world free from poverty.

By Bob Minzesheimer

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