(Note: Some readers object to off-topic posts, so I've decided to start writing them on a regular basis. From now on, on any Sunday when I feel like it, I'm going to post a completely off-topic mini-article that has nothing to do with photography. I will label them all "The Sunday Sermon," for the convenience of those who only want to hear from me about photography. If you're one of those folks, all you have to do is avoid any post with this title. All I can promise everyone else is that the content of the 'sermons' will vary wildly. Probably the quality too, although I'll try my best. Cheers! —MJ. P.S. If there is a great chorus of objections to this feature, I'll stop.)
'Harry Potter': A Disaster for Bookstores
You'd think that if you owned a store that sold only one kind of product, and an example of that product came along that everyone and her brother wanted to buy, you'd be happy, right?
If you own a bookstore, however, and the product is the final Harry Potter book, wrong.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which if god has any mercy will be the last in the series, came out on July 17th. Because of its crushing popularity (caused by spells, we think), many huge retailers will skim the product. Wal-Mart and Amazon, using their huge buying power to negotiate a better deal than is even available to small independent bookstores, are selling the book at 49% off—for no profit, simply using the book's popularity as a draw. Megachains Barnes & Noble and Borders have priced it at 40% off, slicing off all but the narrowest of profit margins. Here you have a product so popular that people would buy it no matter how much it costs; so, in order to insure themselves a decent portion of the trade to be done, retailers willingly give away all their potential profit. This is, frankly, insane. But that won't stop anybody. You will be able to buy Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in some surprising places, we think—Costco, grocery stores, big box stores—including some places you hardly ever see books sold...