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Old 07-05-2005, 08:29 AM
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 1,160
Re: Anyone waiting for the new Harry Potter? :)
In todays New York Times there was a little piece about the pending book release. Here is the link,

For the sake of those who don't want to go to the site or don't have a log-in, here is the text.

The security plans are in place, the delivery efforts are under way and lawyers are standing by in case any copies of "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" go astray before 12:01 a.m. on July 16, the official time of release for the latest installment in the J. K. Rowling series.

There is only one thing left to do, in fact, in the days leading up to the release of 10.8 million copies of the Harry Potter book in this country and millions more around the globe.

"You keep your fingers crossed," said Barbara Marcus, who oversees the children's book division of Scholastic Inc., the book's United States publisher. "You dot all the i's and you cross all your t's, and then you keep your fingers crossed."

Not all the security measures, jointly organized by the publisher with the retailers, wholesale distributors and delivery companies involved in the rollout, are reliant simply on good fortune, of course. Scholastic has closely policed the companies with which it works to produce and distribute the book. It requires many of them and their customers, including librarians and the managers of individual stores, to sign affidavits promising that they will not release the book prematurely and will undertake all necessary security efforts.

At each of's five order-fulfillment centers, for example, the books are kept in a restricted area that workers need a special pass to enter, where they are watched by security guards and are not allowed to carry anything in or out.

"We're being extremely careful that there is not an opportunity for any product to leave," said Laura Porco, Amazon's group merchandising manager for books.

The decision to maintain such tight security stems from the expressed desires of Ms. Rowling, the British author of the Potter series, to create a special experience, Ms. Marcus said. "It was her concept for kids to all get the book at the same time and be reading it at the same time," she said.

That requires not only security but also a huge logistical effort. Already, Scholastic has begun the shipment of 600 tractor-trailer loads of books from printing plants to the distribution centers of book wholesalers and the big chains, which will forward them to some 5,000 stores. Barnes & Noble and Borders Stores have begun shipping boxes of the books from their distribution centers to local stores, where they are being stored in stockrooms and managers' offices.

Steve Riggio, the chief executive of Barnes & Noble, said the company expected to sell 50,000 of the new Harry Potter book per hour in the first 24 hours after its release. "Less than 1 percent of all books published sell that many copies in a lifetime," he said.

Over the next 11 days, Amazon and other online retailers will turn over more than a million Harry Potter packages to United Parcel Service, which in turn will deliver most of them on July 15 to local post offices for delivery to homes the following day by the United States Postal Service. Both Amazon and Barnes & Noble have promised to deliver the book on July 16 if it is ordered by a certain deadline.

But with the books being handed off five or more times in the trip from publisher to reader, it would not be surprising if one or two copies slipped through the system into the wrong hands or merely made their way into readers' hands early, by oversight or otherwise.

Two men were arrested in Britain last month, in fact, and charged with trying to sell two stolen copies of the book. So far, however, no such breaches of security have yet surfaced in the United States.

"We're seeing a lot less of that type of activity here than we expected," said Melissa Anelli, editorial director for [color=#000066][/color], an Internet site for Potter devotees that chronicles just about every event even remotely tied to the release.

"By this time with the last book, news had started to leak out," Ms. Anelli said, referring to the release of "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" in 2003. "There were a lot of plot spoilers and other information published. This time it's been very quiet."

Some of the ruckus last time came from the early release of copies by retail outlets. In 2003, an Osco drugstore in an Indianapolis suburb and a health-food store in Brooklyn put copies of the last Harry Potter book on display a few days early. Two copies ordered from were also delivered to customers in Indiana by the Postal Service before the scheduled Saturday release date.

Scholastic says that those who have breached security in the past are paying a price this time. "Some of the stores or retailers that broke the on-sale date last time will get books only after the on-sale date" this year, Ms. Marcus said, although she declined to provide further details about just which outlets had been affected.

Scholastic has closely policed other aspects of the publication. Ms. Marcus said that last winter a company executive who oversees manufacturing toured a printing plant that eventually would be used to print the new Harry Potter book. On the tour, she said, the executive became concerned when he noticed that pages of other books that had been cast aside because of printing errors were not being shredded finely enough to prevent someone from piecing a page back together. The printing company, which she refused to identify, quickly assured Scholastic that it would improve its shredding capability, she said.

Still, Scholastic cannot keep Barnes & Noble and Amazon from drawing unwanted attention to the distribution efforts. On Monday, is to invite reporters and photographers into its distribution center in Fernley, Nev., to let them see its packing and shipping operations. Barnes & Noble invited photographers into its northeast distribution center last month for a similar photo opportunity.

"Of course we'd rather they didn't do that," Ms. Marcus said last week. "It's really not the story. We'd rather it be about what a fabulous reading experience this is, and the fact that J. K. Rowling is turning so many kids on to reading."

Sometimes the companies want both their security and the publicity. Barnes & Noble, for example, trumpeted its photo opportunity and the location of its warehouse in a press release issued through wire services and posted on the company's Web site. But officials also declined to discuss other security arrangements and asked reporters not to reveal the warehouse's whereabouts.

Scholastic sometimes makes security the story as well. In 2003, it sued The Daily News, of New York, for copyright infringement after the newspaper published a preview of the last book in the series, including a display of two pages of its text, before the official release date. The lawsuit asked for $100 million in damages, but it was settled and dismissed within three months, before The News even filed a formal reply to the complaint. Neither side will disclose the terms of the settlement.

Scholastic's bark might be worse than its bite in other ways too. A spokeswoman for Albertson's, the grocery and drugstore company that owns Osco, said the chain would be carrying the book for sale on its first day and had not been denied copies by Scholastic despite the early release in Indiana in 2003. Carlos Aguila, the owner of Karrot, the Brooklyn health-food store that sold the book early two years ago, said he had not planned to carry the Harry Potter books at all this time around. The Postal Service and Amazon are still involved, of course, despite the early delivery of copies last time.

And in some ways, the security efforts might be helped by the publicity. With all eyes looking for a copy, it is harder for anyone to sneak one away from a warehouse or store.