More adventures with Harry Potter

The argument between booksellers and Scholastic, the publisher of the next Harry Potter book that has decided to try direct sales in addition to channel sales, continues, as detailed in today’s episode of Publishers Weekly.

“The ABA lashed out harshly today against Scholastic for its decision
to sell Harry Potter V through its book fairs, using words like
“obdurate” and “callous” in a letter to senior v-p Michael Jacobs. The
letter decried Scholastic’s decision that extends its direct-sales
practices to a Harry Potter book for the first time.”

To learn a bit more about how bookstores are viewing this, I popped into the local Borders (who partner with for their electronic presence) and talked with the manager about the Potter V fiasco.

Much to my surprise, she wasn’t concerned about Scholastic selling books as much as she was concerned that the binding on the first printing of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was better than the previous first printings of Potter I through IV. Apparently – and I didn’t know this because I haven’t actually bought any of the books – the spine of the first printing of the last Potter book was so poor that they had lots of returns.

To me, though this is a great example of how some people can see trees, while others see the entire forest. The issue Borders has isn’t at all with bad bindings, it’s with them buying 500 copies per bookstore, and then encouraging individual stores to use promotional monies to pay for special Potter events on the 21st of June (the release date) just to find that they’ve horribly overestimated and only sell 100-150 copies, while blowing 10% of their annual marketing budget.

Bindings are the least of their worries, in my opinion…

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