Harry Potter sales

I was out shopping today (Sunday) and I was surprised by something. I worked Saturday but I had already decided that even if I had been off I was going to avoid any bookstores (which would have been an inconvenience because if I had been off, I would have been in NYC) because I anticipated large crowds of people lining up to buy the final Harry Potter book.

But today, I was in three different stores that were selling the book (a WalMart, a Barnes & Noble, and a comic book store) and I saw that all of them had the book for sale with no special attention. They just had normal displays with no crowd or anything. Anyone who wanted to could pick up a copy and read it in the store or buy it to take home - neither of which I actually observed anyone doing.

So, what is the deal? Was it that fans are so fanatic that they all bought their copies literally on the first day and nobody waited a day? Or is it that sales were over-hyped and the book is actually selling at normal non-frenzied levels?

I suspect that many people were like me: They bought it the first day so that (1) they would have all weekend to read it, (2) they could hurry up and read it before inadvertently encountering spoilers, and (3) they could then read the threads and participate in the discussions about the book.

By the way, I bought mine at a Barnes & Noble Saturday afternoon. There wasn’t a huge crowd, but plenty of people were there to buy the book.

Nope (from wikipedia):

I suspect there were no large mobs of people by today because the large mobs already had their fun early Saturday morning and most are at home peeling through their copies.

I’m not one for crowds either, but Saturday morning, 10 AM I strolled into my local grocery store and picked up a copy. No fuss or anything, just a guy slowly breaking them out of their boxes. I witnessed people picking up copies as they walked by, but there is no need to crowd or act as if it’s a limited edition!

So, I think it’s a) all the talk about release parties tend to be hyped up by the media and b) all the sane people know perfectly well they can stroll into any store carrying them and get a copy.

The local Barnes and Noble tried to interest me in a pre sale a few months ago. I had to work Saturday morning, and stopped by our local Target Store on the way home (about 9 am local time) and picked up a copy from their display at one dollar less than the best price Barnes and Noble had advertised,

I have always thought the pre-sale madness of Harry Potter is weird. It’s not like it’s a rare limited edition book that will only be available for two days. It’s going to be around for decades!

Pick up a copy 8 hours after the midnight madness, people! Pre-sales are for the rare or “difficult to find” item, not the “commonly available in every single bookstore in the world for the next fifty years” item.

I ventured into a Borders today and was immediately privy to three different high-volume spoiler-filled conversations about the book. Then I went for groceries and heard another one. I was glad I had bought it at midnight Saturday and finished it before going out in public. I have a couple of friends who are still reading and are planning not to go out without headphones on. Typically, one has been able to pick up a copy of a new Harry Potter book without much fuss the morning after release, but the likelihood of having it spoiled goes up.

I pre-ordered from Amazon with the guarantee that it would arrive on Saturday. It never did. So I went to Wal-Mart at 2:00 a.m. Sunday morning and bought a copy.

My roommate and I accompanied friends who had put in pre-orders at Borders on Friday night, mainly to see the spectacle. We stood outside (away from the line) for maybe an hour or so before we got bored. So then we drove two blocks over to the Jewel-Osco grocery store, grabbed ourselves a couple of copies and bought them at the self-checkout lanes. All in all, we got our copies at the same time as our friends.

DesertRoomie and I went to see a nine o’clock movie and the theater was just across a courtyard from a Borders. When we walked in it was already pretty lively with a few booths set up for palm reading, face painting and snacks. When we walked out at eleven it was going full-bore with a (presumably not-moving yet) line snaking out the door and an HP trivia game on the stage going on. It was a pretty tough one, too. One question I remember: Who betrayed Dumbeldore’s Army to Umbridge, in hte book, not the movie. They didn’t take “Cho’s friend” as an answer.

It looked like a lot of fun and if I’d been a dyed in the wool HP fan I would have probably joined them. As it was I strolled into CostCo at six the next evening and plucked one off the wall-o-books they had just inside the front door.

When the previous book, Half-Blood Prince, came out, I had it reserved. The day of, I walked into the small book shop in the mall at about 10 or 11, and asked for it. The shopkeeper leaned down behind the counter, pulled it out, and sold it. We’ve moved towns since.

This year, the release day was my SO’s birthday, so I planned on getting her it. We had just finished watching a DVD at 11:40. I did not anticipate any urgency, really, but you never know. We decided, why not, went to the bookstore - it was packed, no parking. We went to the other, waited 20 minutes, and walked out with it. She began reading it that night.

Stores have parties, decorations, etc, people get dressed up, it’s much like going to the midnight premiere of a movie. You can certainly go see it the next day, but folks go at 12 anyway, don’t they?

I got up early on Saturday so I could get to Target just before 8am, because the store advertised the book at $17.99. There was a bunch of people (about twenty or thirty) already there, and when the store manager unlocked the door for us, he announced that the store had 700 copies, so none of us would have problems getting it at that price. (Although they wouldn’t let one woman buy three copies at that price.)

But to answer Little Nemo’s question, the real fanatics bought the store at midnight sales, dressed in costume and while attending bookstore-sponsored release parties. I like to think I got up early on Saturday to get it at 8am was out of frugality and not fanaticism.

Can I have your extra copy when it arrives?

I never went to any of the midnight sales until this last book. It was all right, but I’m glad I didn’t do it for every book. I had my copy by 1220, read in line and purchased it by 1 am. Then I went home to read the night away. Finished it at 0830.

My kid wanted to pre-order and go to a party. I told him there was no need to pre-order–after all, we bought the last couple on their release date, by merely walking into a bookstore, there was a HUUUUGE printing, there was no possibility this book would NOT be available.

But I went ahead and pre-ordered and we went to the party. Great fun, no place to park, people dressed up as characters. One of his classmates had the entire family there. Dad, dressed as Hagrid. (Dad is 6’10" so it worked.) Mom, dressed as Dumbledore. Kid, 11, dressed as HP himself, natch. Little sister, I think she’s 8, dressed as a white owl (cute!). These people are really into it and the mom made all the costumes and did a helluva job.

We just went as ourselves, drank the “butterbeer” (apple juice I think) and ate some donuts. There were other things, notably the jelly beans that Jelly Bellies (sp?) puts out with Bertie Botts flavors–I stayed away from those but the kids were having a great time. “I think this one’s snot!” “This one’s worms!” Ugh.

I will now pit the book itself. It has fallen apart. This is after not even one reading, quite yet (he’s about 3/4 through it). If past books are any guide, this one will be read and reread, and it’s not gonna hold up. I’m wondering if I’ll be able to read it.

Hilarity–I’d take it back! Do you have your receipt? That sucks. Ours is in good shape, as are the rest of the series (except for some obscure stains here and there). It shouldn’t fall apart like that. :eek:

US or UK edition? I haven’t had any problems with the US editions, but both times I’ve bought the UK one I’ve been disappointed by the binding.

This numbers are almost literally incomprehensible.

Remember that the first printing was a record 12,000,000 copies. Even with the record number of copies sold there are 3,700,000 copies left.

I’m not sure how many other non-Potter books there have been - ever - with a first printing of 3,700,000. Take any book that seemed to have saturated the nation with copies, copies piled to the ceiling in every possible store, more copies than it seems likely that the whole world would want to read, and then consider that that book probably only had one-fourth as many books in its printing as the leftovers from Harry Potter.

No wonder you can still see Potter books everywhere.


We bought the new Harry Potter on Saturday, but the wife gets to read it first, so I have to wait. We’ve enjoyed the entire series. There were Harry Potter activities at Bangkok bookstores. Went on sale at 6:01am here, and the first person in Thailand to buy the book – an Indonesian – was greeted by the British ambassador and given a certificate. The newspaper photo showed the ambassador wearing a witch’s hat.

I’d like to say one thing about JK Rowling and this whole Harry Potter phenomenon, though. Whether you like Harry Potter or dislike the series, whatever you may think about Rowling herself, any author who can get small children to WANT to read 800-page novels is all right in MY book.

What aggravates me is that my local bookstore will not let me pre-order the new Harry Turtledove book (Settling Accounts: In At the Death). Apparently, pre-ordering is for HP only, and if I miss out on one of the three copies of SA: IATD they’ve got coming in, too bad, so sad. Grr! I’m just as eager to find out what will happen in TL-191 as I was to find out what would happen in the Potterverse, but apparently, pre-ordering is only about controlling traffic, not guaranteeing sales. Poop.

Also, the first day I had HP7, I managed to spatter salad dressing on the cover. Good thing I always take dust jackets off when I’m actually reading. I would worry about the resale value, but there’s no such thing as resale value on a book that 90% of the world has at least one of. Unless it’s like the year 2050, and I’m one of the few people who has not given in to a HP backlash (hey, it could happen), in which case a few grease marks won’t matter to rare-book collectors.