After the record-breaking opening weekend for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Scholastic's emphasis last week was on resupplying customers that had run out of, or were on the verge of running out of, copies of the book. To help keep stores supplied, Scholastic announced last Tuesday that it was going back for a third printing of 800,000 copies, which will bring the in-print figure up to 9.3 million copies. Phoenix's audiobook publisher, Listening Library, was also headed back to press last week, ordering another 100,000 copies of the CD edition and 75,000 in cassette format. The total number of Phoenix audiobooks in print (cassette and CD combined) is now 750,000.
In selling an estimated five million copies on the first day of publication, Phoenix set sales records at bookstores throughout the U.S. and in Canada and the U.K.
Copies of Phoenix were being sold in a wide range of stores. Books were also sold at a variety of prices, ranging from full price of $29.99 to some third-party sellers offering the title for $12 on Amazon.com.
Borders, Barnes & Noble and Amazon were among the many outlets that turned in record performances over the opening weekend. B&N, coupled with B&N.com, sold 896,000 copies on Saturday and about 1.1 million copies over the entire weekend. A company spokesperson said some outlets in the chain had run out of books and were being resupplied during the week. Borders racked up 750,000 sales on Saturday and finished the weekend with 900,000 copies sold. Amazon shipped 789,000 in the U.S. on Saturday. The e-tailer ran out of stock for a time on Sunday, but were resupplied early in the week, and were offering 24-hour delivery by last Wednesday.
Numerous independents had record-breaking sales days as well, although some reported that they were scrambling to keep books in stock. Their prefered method appears to be buying books from the warehouse and price clubs. A bookseller in New England, for example, reported that she bought 300 copies of Phoenix at a local Costco and paid about the same price she paid by ordering directly from Scholastic. While most warehouse clubs are a passive bookstore supplier, a Sams Club in the Midwest was actively soliciting orders from local booksellers, explaining that they had over ordered the title. Rosemary Stevens, owner of Tiger Tales Bookstore and Espresso Bar in Columbia, Mo., said a nearby Sams offered to sell her extra copies for $15.39. She turned down the offer, and sold her titles at a 20% discount, or $23.99. Stevens benefited a bit when the Wal-Mart next to her store ran out of copies, which it was selling for $17.
A spokesperson for Advanced Marketing Services couldn't provide specific numbers on how many copies it sold through its warehouse club accounts, although the spokesperson said "sales were much more than anticipated, especially on the audio side."
The country's two largest wholesalers, who are on the frontlines of the resupply effort, said they were having a difficult time keeping up with demand. "We have more copies coming in, and we can use them," said Baker & Taylor's Jim Ulsamer. Ingram's chief commercial officer, Jim Chandler, said the company is "filling orders as quickly as we can. A trailer comes in and a trailer goes out." Ulsamer and Chandler both said they have been working closely with Scholastic to ensure that the shipping efforts go as smoothly as possible. Ulsamer said, "When I heard the A word [allocation], I was worried about a possible disaster, but things have gone fairly orderly." He said B&T's biggest challenge has been sorting through orders to ensure that the company is not duplicating shipments to stores that may have ordered from multiple sources to guarantee that they have enough books on hand.
Chandler said Ingram has been working with Scholastic to prevent duplicate shipments. And like everyone else in the publishing business, Ulsamer and Chandler were hoping that the spark given to bookstore sales by Phoenix will continue into the fall. "I hope it [Phoenix] has legs," Ulsamer said.
But Scholastic's allocation system has generated complaints from some quarters. Vicky Eaves, president of Partners Book Distribution, said that Scholastic "should have had the logistics down better," adding that "they've made a difficult situation much worse than it had to be." Eaves, who, like nearly all accounts, received fewer books than she would have liked, said the problem stems from Scholastic's reluctance to commit to a larger initial printing.
Fears that Scholastic may have a difficult time selling out its 8.5-million printing were allayed when the hundreds of thousands of customers went through the doors June 21. Instances of Phoenix hysteria were reported throughout the country. In suburban Pittsburgh, nearly 1,000 people showed up at the Cranberry Barnes & Noble Friday night for Harry Potter fun (and the store sold upward of 750 copies).
Just down the road, in Wexford, Pa., book buyers experienced a different sort of Harry celebration. Maryanne Eichorn opened the doors to her new children's-only store, Munchkin's Bookshelf, for the first time on Saturday morning at 10 a.m. Copies of Order of the Phoenix filled her front window displays; they were offered at the full $29.99 price and Munchkin's sold 81 copies before closing at 8 p.m.
Saturday was also the first day in business for Square Books Junior in Oxford, Miss., a new children's branch of flagship Square Books. "It went great," said manager Katie Snodgrass of the store's "stealth opening," adding, "We sold out of our Harry Potter books [200 copies] in two and a half hours."
Betsey Detwiler at Buttonwood Books & Toys in Cohasset, Mass., said that "loads of people" came out to her store at midnight. While Buttonwood sold the books for full price, the store donated 20% of the profits to local school libraries. It sold about 400 of the 600 ordered on the first night, but "the fun stopped" the next morning, when Detwiler heard from customers that a man from the Shaw's supermarket next door was actively soliciting customers to the food store, where the book was being sold for $10 less.
The Learned Owl in Hudson, Ohio, sold 1,200 copies over the weekend; more than 3,000 people turned out for its Harry Potter event, which turned Main Street into Diagon Alley.
In New York City, Toys 'R Us in Times Square was the de facto mission control for the launch of Harry V nationwide. At midnight, the registers were opened as sales commenced; at one point, the line to get into the store stretched from Broadway all the way east to Fifth Avenue. Barbara Marcus, president of Scholastic's children's book publishing group, who attended the festivities, told PW, "In the midst of all the craziness and all the logistics, you have to step back and realize it's so remarkable. We are publishing a children's book and it's a great children's book."