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End of Potter Frenzy May Be Bad for Business

Potter mania is taking over the world . . . again, for the seventh and possibly last time. US publisher, Scholastic, and JK Rowling, the now famous billionaire Brit, announced yesterday that the final installment of the beloved Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, will be released on July 21, 2007 — just eight days after the expected release of the fifth movie.

Potter mania is taking over the world . . . again, for the seventh and possibly last time. US publisher, Scholastic, and JK Rowling, the now famous billionaire Brit, announced yesterday that the final installment of the beloved Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, will be released on July 21, 2007 — just eight days after the expected release of the fifth movie.

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While for many children, and even adults like myself, this announcement means 169 days of shear anticipation (maybe even sleeplessness), it also means millions of dollars to the companies that have relied so heavily on revenues from the four-eyed boy with a scar who made it acceptable for adults to wander around Barnes & Nobles in wizarding costumes and black-rimmed spectacles.

Scholastic, Barnes & Nobles, and Amazon.com are just a few of the companies that have capitalized on the frenzy.

Like many others, after reading the news of the release date, I rushed to Barnes & Nobles to reserve my advance copy of the final Harry Potter. I was greeted by an overwhelmed salesperson that had obviously heard the request more than a few times yesterday. I certainly wasn’t the only Potter fan who wanted to make sure that a copy would be in my hands when the clock strikes midnight on July 21. According to Reuters, Amazon’s first-day pre-order sales for Deathly Hallows were 547% higher than for that of its predecessor, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, which sold more than 1.5 million pre-order copies in July 2005.

But many question whether the end of the series will not only be the demise of Lord Voldemort, but also of US publisher, Scholastic (which publishes 37% of the novels).

According to an article in yesterday’s New York Times, Scholastic sales dropped by 15% in a year that a Harry Potter book was not published. Yet, the publisher insists that it will survive the end of the fantastical adolescent adventure, even though it does not have another blockbuster waiting in the wings. “If I suggested that I had in the pipeline the one thing that is going to replace what Harry has been to the company, that would be arrogant and ill-informed,” said Lisa Holton, president of Scholastic’s trade and book fairs division to the Times.

Only time will tell what the end of Harry will bring, but I know I (probably along with the shareholders of Amazon and Scholastic) will be waiting with bated breath for Rowling’s final opus.

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