Potter Profits

The excitement is building toward the release of the latest Harry Potter book. It’s not particularly exciting for me, because I’ve not read any of the books. I was going to pick up the first one a while back, but just had too many other things to read. But nonetheless, the world is abuzz with Potter fever.

One place you may not find J. K. Rowling’s latest blockbuster is Asda.  Asda intended to sell the book for $8.97 when the cover price is £17.99 (yes, that a bit more than $36 these days).  Potter publisher Bloomsbury didn’t like that. But what they really didn’t like was when Asda accused them of “blatant profiteering”. The giant retailer also accused the publisher of “attempting to hold children to ransom” because the cover price is twice the average child’s pocket money. Bloomsbury said the comments were “potentially libelous”. I’m not sure how they could be potentially anything after they have been printed, but I suppose that’s for Bloomsbury’s solicitors to work out.

Bloomsbury is says it not withholding the book because of Asda’s comments, but because Asda owes them money, though they wouldn’t say how much. Asda was much more forthcoming, saying they owed Bloomsbury £38,000 while at the same time Bloomsbury owes them £122,000.

It is a testimony to the popularity of the series that the publisher can afford to cut out the second largest retailer in the UK and an initial order for 500,000 copies of the book. Asda is convinced it is going to have the title in stock by paying their outstanding balance today.

I have a hard time seeing Asda/Wal-mart as having the high moral ground when it comes to complaining about profiteering, just because they are making a popular book a loss-leader. And does every child have a right to Harry Potter at a reasonable price? It’s not exactly food, clothing, or shelter. Also, since the release date of the new book has been known for ages, children have had time to save up their pocket money. Is there a reason Bloomsbury shouldn’t maximise their profits?

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One Response to Potter Profits

  1. I’ve not read any of the books

    And I thought I was the only one.

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