Potter casts spell on Scholastic, execs do about-face on book sales

A few weeks ago, I wrote extensively about the uproar in the publising and bookstore world when Scholastic announced that they were going to try direct sales of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. In the dot-com days we’d have called this step disintermediation, but now it’s just plain as poaching on your retail channel and a bad idea.

Apparently the execs at Scholastic were listening…

According to Publishers Weekly, the news is:

Scholastic Does About-Face on New Potter; Won’t Sell Them Direct

The prospect of dealing with scores of angry booksellers has helped
persuade Scholastic not to presell Harry Potter and the Order of the
Phoenix through its book fairs division after all.

After the ABA and assorted members spoke out last week, Scholastic has
decided to modify the program so that it drives customers into stores.
Students can still order through the fairs, but instead of picking up
the book at the warehouse, customers who order Phoenix through the
school fairs will now be given a coupon that they can redeem at
participating retailers. Scholastic will reimburse stores for every
coupon they receive. Scholastic has cancelled plans for parties at the
warehouses and the facilities will only be open to accommodate
customers who can’t make it to stores.

The change in policy was outlined in a letter from Scholastic senior
v-p for the trade group Michael Jacobs that was sent to American
Booksellers Association headquarters, directors of regional
associations and ABA board members. Jacobs wrote that “our goal has
always been to make the publication of Harry Potter and the Order of
the Phoenix the biggest bookselling event of the year and that’s what
we’re doing.”

Interesting indeed. One wonders what happened behind the scenes…

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