A Book-Selling World Gone Mad

Last Updated Aug 20, 2007 7:03 PM EDT

You usually have to scrabble around on the sale table and fend off other bargain hunters to find products discounted to the point where the retailer doesn't make a profit. In the case of the latest (and final) Harry Potter book, however, folks won't have to wait for the price slashing. Big bookstore chains are offering discounts (nearly 50%) even before the seventh and final book hits the shelves, and independent booksellers are in a bind.Graham Marks, an editor at Publishing News, calls it "huge, ridiculous discounting by the chains." His assessment of the price reduction:
They are literally not going to make one penny out of the book. It is stupid -- just throwing money away ... The world has gone mad.
Some independent booksellers are making the tough decision and opting not to carry the book. Their customers might not be happy, but then most probably aren't willing to pay the full price just to keep their favorite bookseller in business, either, not with half-price options readily available at larger stores.

On the other hand, J.K. Rowling, the book's author and her American publisher, Scholastic, haven't struggled with profits. Rowling hit billionaire status after the fifth book in the series, and she's been adding to her pile since then. And while Scholastic anted up a reported six-figure bid to win the U.S. publishing rights back in 1997, it's certainly paid off for them too. They made $185 million in the six months following the the publication of the fifth, and they're sitting pretty for the seventh. Barnes and Noble and Amazon alone have 1.5 million pre-orders for the book already.