It started as a kind gesture. It has become the ultimate party. To the children lining up to wait for the sales of the last installment of Harry Potter magic the bookstores’ opening doors at midnight on Saturday (July 21) represent a portal to a new world. What changed an occasion to the ultimate event was just plain good customer service.
The story opens with several children huddling at the front of bookstores for the release of one of the earlier books from the Potter series. And the bookstore staff reaching out into the parking lot or walkway with snacks and improvised entertainment. The distance was covered by the ingenuity and creativity of both – customers and sales staff.
This imminent launch will be preceded by full scale book parties, handmade costume contests, card games, Potter trivia and even kids’ section filled with multimedia entertainment. Music, costumes, train rides, and themed experiences. Included in some of the free parties are magicians, fortune-tellers, face painters and a story teller. And you still need to preorder the book.
According to WashingtonPost.com, Barnes & Noble, the largest U.S. book retailer, said earlier in the month that preorders of the last book in the series rose to more than 1.2 million; the company’s largest number of preorders the company has ever received.
Amazon.com said it sold 2 million copies of the book worldwide. Scholastic Corp., the U.S. publisher of the series, is planning to release a record-breaking 12 million copies of Deathly Hallows.
According to The Australian, the estimated number of copies that will be sold down under on the first day is 75,000. In Britain, Rowling will host a midnight launch under the shadow of dinosaur skeletons in the British Museum of Natural History for 500 specially selected fans.
If customer service made the night, as it may be, did marketing make the day? Did all the publicity of the movies, the toys and games, the tie-ins, and wonderful word of mouth generated by the events, inspire children (and adults) to read?
Did the spirit and magic of the Harry Potter’s journey build enough momentum to save the idea that building fun and dialogue with customers is good for the heart and good for business?
Valeria Maltoni • Conversation Agent • Philadelphia, PA • www.conversationagent.com