I did some research:
- The release date for HBP was announced on Dec. 21, 2004.
- On Jan 24, 2005, Scholastic announced that the hardcover edition of HBP would contain 672 pages.
- On March 8, the cover art for the Scholastic edition was released -- shown first on the Today show (who this morning was not heard to make one peep about the news of the release date for DH).
- On June 5th Scholastic released an article saying that the books were all printed.
- Later on in June we began to see pictures of the books in various places.
- The book was actually released to the public on July 16, 2005.
Just some dates to keep in mind as we try to figure out when we'll learn more about this last and most-anticipated Harry Potter novel. It's hard to tell what this means. The date was released over a month earlier than that of the DH, so that probably means we won't see a cover quite as early. But they may have kept the completion of the book under wraps a bit longer this time, who knows. I'd say we'll definitely have a cover by Easter. After the cover, other pictures started surfacing -- a deluxe edition that had more artwork, promotional artwork, etc. as well as the Bloomsbury cover of course, which I think was released the same week as the Scholastic cover.
I remember saving a photo of a stack of books being readied for shipping at Amazon -- I did that for both OoP and HBP. Seeing photos of the actual book, pages and all, as opposed to just the cover floating in air, somehow thrilled me more than I'd anticipated.
The Harry Potter sites are showing countdowns to the OoP movie, saying that there are 161 days left till that, which is essentially a week before the book comes out. That's not too long to wait, really.
I've been reading through the series again, and I'm just up to the part in HBP when they enter the cave with the lake. As soon as I'm done I'm going to pick up Book 1 and start over, hopefully to be done in time for the release of DH.