Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Area bookstores reap the magic

Sales of Harry Potter tome surprises retailers

By Jenny Callison
Enquirer contributor

[IMAGE] Lining up at Montgomery Book Co. in Montgomery to buy the new Harry Potter book are Lynn Callif (left) of Montgomery and Kitty Estill of Madeira
(Enquirer photo)
| ZOOM |
Greater Cincinnati's booksellers are still marveling at the magic that Harry Potter works.

Most stores surveyed Tuesday still have copies of the new release, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Yet all have reordered because they anticipate that demand will continue strong.

Even with the push for preorders of the new book, retailers were surprised at the sheer volume of business at the witching hour of midnight Friday.

"It was like Christmas," Leslie Kleiser said, recalling the rush at her store, Montgomery Book Co. "We still have some books left, but we were pretty confident of the numbers we were going to need. Then we got lucky and were able to reorder at the end of last week when we were alerted that additional copies had come into the warehouse."

By early Sunday afternoon, Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Norwood sold all its copies of the standard edition of Order of the Phoenix.

"As far as I know, we were one of the last to sell out," new-books manager Dave Bryce said. "We put in a reorder on Friday with the distributor, but by the time it reached them, they were out. We're expecting 200 copies Wednesday or Thursday, and we have another 400 on order. They will continue to sell."

Some stores have specific strategies to keep the book out in front of the public. Special displays of Harry Potter books and associated merchandise are common sights at retailers.

"We're sold out but hoping to get more," said Lissa Martin, book department manager at Follett's Miami Co-op Bookstore in Oxford. She pointed out the store's Potter display, where three golden snitches hovered over a table full of earlier Potter releases. "As soon as we get them, they'll go on display right here."

Its your turn to be the critic. Once you've read Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix, review it here:
Scholastic Inc., the U.S. publisher of the record-breaking fantasy series said Tuesday that it had ordered another 800,000 copies of Order of the Phoenix, bringing the total in print to 9.3 million.

The marketing push for the book is going to continue, too.

Borders Books, for example, is planning a special event July 31, which is author J.K. Rowling's birthday and, curiously enough, Harry's as well.

"We're going to have a birthday celebration with free cake," Joe Deeter, Borders' area marketing manager, said. "Kids can come and bring their books, make cards for Harry, and share their ideas about the book in discussion groups. It kind of keeps the magic alive."

John Hutton, owner of Blue Manatee Children's Bookstore in Oakley, plans to promote Harry along with his other summer reading initiatives, but questions the book's fate long term.

"It's kind of a tricky thing to keep on top of, because the book is so ubiquitous. A big part of me wonders how saturated the market will become," he said.

But so far, sales have been brisk, not only for the standard hardcover but for other versions of the Order of the Phoenix. That includes a $60 deluxe edition with slipcover and original artwork on the dust jacket and endpapers, a $45 set of 17 audiocassettes and a $75 set of 23 CDs.

"We sold out of the deluxe edition the first night. That completely blew me away," Kleiser said. "We sold six, and we've ordered more. One family bought the book but also bought the CD set."

Joseph-Beth reported sales of three deluxe editions, 19 audiocassette sets and 13 CD sets.

"To sell, right away, 13 of something at that price, and something that's technically a children's book - that's phenomenal," Bryce said.

The publisher of the audio version announced Tuesday that more than 135,000 copies had already been sold, more than most books in this format sell in a year.

Many booksellers are hoping that the Hogwarts' "Wingardium Leviosa" spell will cause other sales to rise.

"The book renews an interest in all the previous (Harry Potter) books and brings in a whole new younger readership," Martin said. "We've seen that with the previous books."

What price Potter?

Stores are charging a range of prices for the newly-released Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Here's a sample:

Blue Manatee Children's Books: Full retail price of $29.99, with the store donating 10 percent of profits to two literacy initiatives in Cincinnati.

Follett's Miami Co-op Bookstore: $19.95, which amounts to more than a third off the suggested retail price.

Borders: $17.99, which is 40 percent off the suggested retail price.

Walden Books: 30 percent off suggested retail price.

Kroger: $17.99.

Montgomery Book Co.: $23.99, which is 20 percent off.

Joseph-Beth: 20 percent off suggested retail.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. E-mail

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