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"If you've got Nasdaq stock, it's like having Confederate money" -- Actor Robin Williams on the Today showEdited by Robert McNattReturn to top

Harry, We Hardly Knew Ye

Some booksellers are seeing the first hints that the phenomenal interest in the Harry Potter books may be leveling off despite a huge print run for the fourth book in the series, tentatively titled Harry Potter and the Doomspell Tournament and set for sale on July 8.

Early indications are that Doomspell is probably enjoying the largest advance sale ever of any children's book. It is already No. 1 on Amazon.com's best-seller list, thanks to preorders. But there may not be much more growth left in the young English wizard's adventures. While American Booksellers Assn. President Richard Howorth says that Doomspell could be "the largest first printing for a children's book ever," he warns about market saturation and Scholastic printing too many books. It did that in 1997, with its popular Goosebumps series. He says that independent bookstores, especially, still have Potter books sitting on their shelves. Why? Because with 19.8 million U.S. copies sold, everyone who is going to be a fan already is one.

London's Bloomsbury Publishing says its first run will be a million copies. U.S. publisher Scholastic says its run will be even greater. By comparison, a new adult bestseller like John Grisham's The Brethren had a first run of 2.9 million.By Joan Oleck; Edited by Robert McNattReturn to top

A Veggie Cleaner to Shine Up P&G Stock

Desperately in search of hot new consumer products to boost its fortunes, the doyens of the Old Economy at Procter & Gamble are hard at work. In the past year, P&G has come out with Swiffer, an electrostatic floor sweeper, and Dryel, a home dry-cleaning mix. But neither has increased total corporate sales. Now, CEO Durk Jager and his crew are hoping the third time is a charm. They want to boost their sagging stock price--off 40% this year--by getting you to clean your vegetables.

After six years of test marketing, P&G is rolling out Fit Fruit and Vegetable Wash this April at $4.99 for an 8.5 oz. bottle. P&G research indicates that 16% of the population worries so much about food poisoning that they have cut down on their veggie consumption. So P&G came up with Fit, a wash made with citric acid and baking soda that cleans off 90% of residues.

P&G figures at least 10% of U.S. households will try Fit within a year. "There seems to be real demand for the product," says Eileen Gormley, an analyst at Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette. Still, a major boost from Fit is unlikely. The company is just too large for one product to make much difference.By Michael Arndt; Edited by Robert McNattReturn to top

TABLE

Early Deaths: Fact and Fiction

A recent study by the health-advocacy group Partnership for Prevention notes

the gap between what Americans think are the biggest causes of premature death

and the actual causes. Perceptions are skewed by highly visible and emotional

issues like drug abuse and AIDS. But by targeting the real mass killers--with

policies such as higher tobacco taxes or more school spending for phys ed--the

U.S. could save 1.6 million lives over the next decade.

PERCEPTION*

1. CANCER 30%

2. HEART DISEASE 29

3. AUTO ACCIDENTS 28

4. TOBACCO USE 25

5. ALCOHOL ABUSE 18

6. DRUG ABUSE 17

7. FIREARMS 15

8. OBESITY/INACTIVITY 9

9. AIDS 8

REALITY**

1. TOBACCO USE 37.7%

2. OBESITY/INACTIVITY 28.3

3. ALCOHOL ABUSE 9.4

4. NONSEXUAL 8.5

INFECTIOUS DISEASES

5. TOXIC HAZARDS 7.0

6. FIREARMS 3.3

7. VENEREAL DISEASE 2.8

8. AUTO ACCIDENTS 2.4

9. ILLICIT DRUGS 1.9

*Percentage of respondents who described these as the leading causes of

premature death. 1,000 adults were surveyed in March.

**Percentage of premature deaths from each cause

DATA: PARTNERSHIP FOR PREVENTION

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