Presales strong for Harry Potter book 

Armchair Books planning midnight sale event

By Andrew Mitchell

The launch of the seventh and final book in the Harry Potter Series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, is expected to be the biggest literary event since — well, since the release of the sixth book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. That release shattered all records for pre-sales, generated huge lines at midnight bookstore openings, and remained on the top of the bestseller list for months.

The release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is expected to break all previous records, with more than 12 million copies issued in the first printing in the U.S. alone, while companies like Amazon.com are reporting presale numbers over the one million mark.

Some of that magic will extend to Whistler, as Armchair Books gets ready for its biggest release ever.

“We’ve got reservations for two editions, like last time, with the kids’ book jacket and the adult jacket, and to date we’ve got orders for 64 with the kids’ jacket and 22 for the adults,” Dan Ellis, owner and operator of Armchair said last week. “That’s pretty good this far out. We’re going to be bringing in something like 500 copies and change, and we expect to make a second order.

“With this being the seventh and last of the series, we expect that it’s going to be the biggest to date. What happened last time was just crazy, setting records worldwide for sales. We expect the same thing to happen this year, if not more.”

Armchair will once again host a midnight opening on the evening of Friday, July 20. The book can’t be sold until July 21, but bookshops around the world will be making the title available as early as possible. There will be cake and refreshments at Armchair, and once again Alix Nicoll has volunteered her services to read the first chapter to young Harry Potter fans.

“(Nicoll) is just great, she’s got the perfect British accent and the kids hang on her every word,” said Ellis. “It gives the kids a taste, so they’re not up all night reading.”

In Canada, the Harry Potter series is printed by Vancouver’s Raincoast Books. Raincoast was the first company to publish Harry Potter books on recycled paper, and the first Canadian printing of the sixth book was reported to save a forest the size of Stanley Park. Other publishers in the U.S. and Europe are also printing on recycled paper this year.

But while the release of the book should be a good news story for many publishers, a lot of independent bookstores are stocking fewer copies of the book than they normally would to protest the discounts offered by larger chains. Amazon.com is offering the book at $17 off the hardcover price, and will lose money on every book sold. Chains like Costco and Wal-Mart are offering similar discounts, using the books as a magnet to draw in customers. The Chapters-Indigo chain is offering up to 46 per cent off, plus another $5 for pre-orders.

Independent booksellers, who can’t afford to lose money on every copy of the book they sell, are opposed to the idea of selling books below the suggested retail price and are lobbying publishers to standardize pricing in the industry to create a level playing field for all retailers.

The hardcover of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows has a suggested publisher’s list price of $45.

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