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.


  1. I saw a sign at my local Kroger store (a large grocery chain) today advertising the sale of Harry Potter at 12:01 on July 21st. Looks like everyone is trying to get in on it!

  2. I still plan to bring a camera out to one of the local Barnes & Noble stores and hope to have some pictures to post here on July 21. I've never been to one of these Potter feeding frenzies, so it might be fun to see this last one for myself.

  3. I've heard some good stories from booksellers and librarians about their midnight Potter-fests on the release dates--but I'd love to see pictures, Sam!

  4. I have good intentions and, if I remember and if the bookstore doesn't stop me, I hope to have some interesting photos to share. It sounds like one big party...

  5. Thank god my kids just stuck with the book and never got into the action figures and so on.

  6. I suppose that in order to take a loss on the sale of the book and then to turn around, and pay all that extra labor cost, the stores have to recoup their costs some way. But it does seem a little cheesy to turn a bookstore into a toy store this way.

  7. Sometimes I think they make waaaay to much extra stuff, but like you say I guess they really do need to make their money some how!

  8. I look at that kind of stuff the same way that I see lottery tickets, Danielle. If someone else wants to spend money on those things, more power to them, because it helps keep the stores running at a profit and my state can maybe not raise taxes on me again.

    We can always avoid those things and take advantage of the books that they can afford to sell more cheaply this way.

  9. Have you tried the Every Flavor Beans? They have these flavors:

    Black Pepper
    Rotten Egg

    There are nice flavors mixed in with the gross like mango and lime. The beans taste exactly as described. It was the worse candy experience of my life.

  10. Sounds pretty awful so I think I'll pass. :-)