Sunday, July 08, 2007

So That's How They Do It

It's been pointed out numerous times that bookstores lose their shirts when it comes to selling a new Harry Potter book at the huge discounts that have become the norm for those things. Chains like Barnes & Noble and Borders very likely are selling the books at near their cost in order to draw all those little muggles into their stores at the strike of midnight on July 20. And, as has been pointed out, those little creatures are not very likely to have any shopping on their minds that night other than to grasp a new Potter book in their hot little hands one last time.

But the chains, and others, have a plan that should have been obvious to me a long time ago: sell as much Harry Potter junk to the muggles as is humanly possible between now and the end of July. I'm willing to bet that the high markup on Potter junk will more than offset the loss that they take on the actual book being sold at or below cost. Looks like the wizards who run Barnes & Noble and Borders have come up with a winning plan.
Ann Arbor-based Borders Group Inc. is upping the ante this time around by offering everything from calendars and journals to wall scrolls, wands and lunch boxes.

"There is much more product available this time because of the timing of the movie and book releases," said Diane Mangan, director of children's merchandise for Borders.

A Borders location in the Detroit suburb of Novi gives Muggles — those who aren't wizards or witches — the chance to spend their hard-earned money on all kinds of Potter stuff.

Sticker books and action figures populate two tables devoted solely to Potter merchandise. Sweet-toothed Potter-philes can leave the Novi store with their own version of the candy cart from the Hogwarts Express train. Two stands offer Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans, and Chocolate Frogs and Blood Pops can be found elsewhere in the store.

Not to be outdone, rival superstore chain Barnes & Noble Inc. also has jumped back into the Potter merchandising game, offering T-shirts, baseball caps, chess sets, calendars, bookmarks, journals, wands and games.
While the national chains are pushing more Potter merchandise, they are quick to point out that their main focus still is on the book, which will wrap up Rowling's epic fantasy series. Worldwide sales of the first six books already top 325 million copies, and the first U.S. printing for "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" is 12 million.

"We're a bookstore, so our prominent feature is the book," said Brown of Barnes & Noble. "The gift items are just an enhancement to the display."
Yes, of course, Ms. Brown. I believe you. No, really.
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