Friday, February 02, 2007

Potter pub date sends publishers scurrying

The final Harry Potter book now has a pub date: July 21. Within hours of Scholastic's announcement, both Amazon and B&N sent out promotional emails to solicit orders.

I'll confess that I'm completely out of touch on this subject -- I've never read a Harry Potter book. (J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis filled that fantasy void for me.) But that doesn't mean that I don't realize what a significant event this is for the publishing industry.

According to Nielsen Bookscan, there are 11 different versions of Harry Potter books that have sold over 1 million copies, 9 that have sold 200K-1 mil, and 19 that have sold between 100-200K. When you stop to think that all 39 of these items are basically just repackaged versions of J.K. Rowling's 6 novels, the power of Potter is all the more undeniable. (Will Scholastic's new book on global warming discuss the impact of all the trees that died to print those Potter books?)

So, after hearing about the pub date, my frantic reaction was to ask our staff: "Do we have anything scheduled for release around the second half of July?!" (We did, and our schedule will need to be juggled.) And I don't think that I'll be the only publisher who has this reaction. Watch for July to be a quiet month in publishing this year as the rest of us duck for cover until Harry's hype has passed.

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