Harry Potter fans yearning for snippets of information about the next book in the series can at least take comfort in that they now know the name of the novel. It'll be called ''Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.'' J.K. Rowling revealed the title via a puzzle on her website over the weekend and confirmed it on Tuesday in a statement issued by her literary reps at the Christopher Little Agency.
Rowling also offered few clues to the content of the book, except to say that neither Harry nor his nemesis, Lord Voldemort, is the half-blood prince of the title. Hardcore Harry fans know that the new title was once Rowling's prospective title for the second book, before she settled on ''Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets'' instead. In a post on her website, Rowling writes, ''Certain crucial pieces of information in book six were originally planned for 'Chamber of Secrets,' but very early on (first draft of 'Chamber') I realized that this information's proper home was book six.''
Rowling also made a point of dispelling rumors and hoaxes that suggested the title would be either ''Harry Potter and the Pillar of Storgé'' or ''Harry Potter and the Toenail of Icklibogg.'' The correct title was hidden on the website behind a picture of a door that, until last weekend, was marked ''Do Not Disturb.'' In a feat worthy of the Hogwarts hero, readers of the fan website Wizard News solved a puzzle involving the locked door, a wall of bricks, an electric fan, and a hair scrunchie, to discover the new title.
No word from Rowling on when ''Half Blood Prince,'' the sixth in her projected seven-volume series, will be published. The wait between book four (''Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire'') and book five (last summer's ''Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix'') was three years, and there's no indication that Rowling will speed up her schedule to complete the increasingly lengthy books in a manner timely enough to please impatient fans or the makers of the Potter movies (currently at work filming ''Goblet of Fire''), who are relying on a cast of teen actors who are aging faster than Rowling can write.