Monday, July 23, 2007


I don't believe any publishing blogger, at least until tomorrow, is allowed to post on anything non-Harry Potter. And to be honest, even though I admittedly have not read past the second book, I have no problem with that. And I'm kind of tired of the people rebelling against it because, quite frankly, it seems like harmless fun to me. Sure, the image of a grown woman dressed as a 14 year old wizard disturbs me, but the only real evil I can find is in places like Walmart capitalizing off this massive interest in reading shown by so many adults and children.

(and yes, I can appreciate the concern that Americans don't get this excited about something more sophisticated - ie, when did adults ever line up like this for a book written at an adult level.)

Moving on, here's the round-up from Shelf-Awareness:
Quickly some statistics:Scholastic estimated that 8.3 million copies of the 12 million first printing of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows sold in the U.S. on Saturday. By contrast, in 2005, some 6.9 million copies of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince sold on the first day.
The New York Times estimated that if the average price per book was $20, "Americans spent nearly $170 million for the book in one day." The AP (via the Seattle Times) calculated that sales of the book averaged more than 300,000 copies per hour or more than 5,000 a minute.

It goes on to talk numbers from Borders, B&N, Amazon, and yes, Walmart, but I don't feel the need to include just how much richer the shareholders became.

I myself was at the charming Books, Etc. in Portland, Maine, where my partner snapped up a book just after midnight. It was sweet to see the anticipation, and then to hear the applauase and general "horrah!" when midnight struck and the first book was sold. Admittedly, as someone who doesn't do groups, who gets uncomfortable when too many people follow one line of thought, I grew a bit itchy while returning from the cafe car on the train coming back and found no few than four people reading the book in the few rows between where I entered our car and where we were sitting - adults and children alike, and all kinds, from a jockish 13 year old to a middle-aged businessman by himself to a teenage/possibly college-aged woman. I want to celebrate the diversity, but some part of me is envisioning them all looking up, glassy-eyed, and coming at me with arms out like trained, brainwashed killers. I mean, replace HP with the Bible and I'm getting off the train at the next stop.

But NO! I won't be won over. This is a victory for books and for reading and hopefully, for independent bookstores. Says Elisabeth Grant-Gibson, co-owner of Windows a bookshop in Monroe, LA, quote in Shelf-Awareness:
"I swear I think we're reaching the tipping point where people are really starting to value the independents and make a little extra effort to support them. Those people coming in today aren't buying here just because we have the best party (which we do--oh my god, it was fab), but because they are willing to pay and extra $15+ for the book (and the extra tax) to buy with us."
Well done, America!

PS I want to add to this post this interesting article from Jon Healey in the Opinion section of the Los Angeles Times, in which he talks about the early spoilers. He himself does not spoil anything - fear not, fans - except any rebellious notion held by those in support of said spoilers.

He spoke with Rich Pearson of Attributor, a company that researched the spoilers famously posted last week:
The most interesting finding is that the vast majority of the material -- 90% or more -- wasn't being hosted by Potter fan sites. Instead, Pearson said, it was found mainly on splogs that used the traffic to drive up ad revenue. By Attributor's count, about 80% of the web pages with the Potter leaks also had ads. These sites tended to be good at optimizing their pages for search engines, Pearson said, so they would appear near the top of the results when someone searched for "Harry Potter" or "Deathly Hallows." In most cases, the sites simply copied and pasted the same material found on other spoiler sites.
Cultural rebellion by capitalist pigs. I'm all for non-conformity but not when it's powered by those just trying to edge in on bigger profits. People aren't spoiling to fight Scholastic's corporate power.

And it might be worth mentioning that Bloomsbury in UK published HP originally, kicking off this phenomenon, as an independent publisher, and the book's success, in the US at least, is due largely to the work of independent booksellers, when the book was first rather quietly published in the US. The Washington Post's Bob Thompson recently mentioned this, saying, "it's important to remember that the Potter phenomenon started not because of hype but because readers (and independent booksellers) loved the first couple of books."

And here's another good article on Friday nights' events, from Bookselling This Week.

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