Originally created 07/01/03

Stores able to meet demand for newest Harry Potter tale



After seeing a shopper stampede the first weekend of Harry Potter's latest tale, retailers say interest in the magical boy wizard subsided Saturday and Sunday, helping them keep pace with customer demand.

The challenge for merchants, of course, is to fuel Harry Potter mania while interesting shoppers with other books and related merchandise.

Last Tuesday, the U.S. publisher of J.K. Rowling's record-breaking series announced it had ordered another 800,000 copies of "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," bringing the total in print to 9.3 million. Additional copies are expected to arrive over the next few weeks, company officials said.

At Sam's Club in Annapolis, Md. on Saturday, Janet Thomas of North Beach, Md., said her search for the book was at the Annapolis Mall, where store supplies were depleted. She found her copy at a nearby Sam's Club.

"But I would have kept looking until I found one," she said.

At Brookline Booksmith, a local bookseller in Boston, there weren't any customers on Saturday looking to buy Harry Potter books. In fact, many already had them.

Dorothy O'Connell, 70, said her 14-year-old grandson had already read the book.

Retailers - both here and abroad - said they have worked hard to make sure they have enough books on hand.

Jenny Rose, a spokeswoman for the Waterstone's bookstores in Britain, said they have not sold out of the latest Harry Potter installment. The company does not give out sales figures, but she noted that sales have "lived up to expectations."

"Right now, we have a comfortable stock level," said Ann Binkley, a spokeswoman at Borders Group, the nation's second-largest bookchain, though she said that by the middle of the week the inventory "may be running low."

Borders Group Inc., which operates stores under Borders and Waldenbooks, is expected to report the weekend's sales on Monday. Last weekend, Borders sold 900,000 copies of the fifth Harry Potter book, and cited an uptick in other Harry Potter merchandise, as well as Hillary Rodham Clinton's "Living History."

Brookline Booksmith sold 700 copies of the book on the first day. That included 400 copies that were on a reserve list.

At a Hawley-Cooke Booksellers store in Louisville, Ky., a stack of Harry Potter books on a table sat undisturbed Saturday afternoon. Assistant manager Nicole Hambleton suspects that shoppers were probably outdoors enjoying sunny weather, but last week, consumers "couldn't get enough 'Harry Potter."'

"Most of the kids that I've talked to have either been coming in to buy it or have finished it already," Hambleton said.

Her store had ordered 2,200 copies of the book. Within a week, 1,500 had been sold.

With overall book sales in a slump, stores are hoping that customers will not only buy the book but also pick up other merchandise, as well. So far, results have been mixed.

At the Children's Book store in Baltimore,company officials said the new book hasn't spurred increase in sales of other items. It's offering Harry Potter tapes and CDs, but not selling other Potter merchandise.

At Independent Tatter Cover Bookstore in downtown Denver, Edward Booker, buying manager, said the store reported strong sales of the book, though "sales have trickled down."

The store also put out other fiction books related toward teens and children.

"We wanted to make sure to have a lot of other kids books available," Booker said. "Not because we'd think we'd run out, but these are kids that are interested in reading."

The following Associated Press writers contributed to this story: Sarah Brumfield in Baltimore; Erin Gartner in Denver; Mike Torralba in Louisville, Ky.; and Helena Payne in Boston.