Monday, July 23, 2007

Harry Potter and the Deathly Price Wars: Part Two

Tumultous times here in Hogwarts, I mean Malaysia as the Harry Potter boycott saga continues with:
  • One Cabinet Minister saying that the price war is good for consumers. Click here.
  • The Malaysia Bookseller Association telling hypermarkets to "Stick to your discounts on milk powder, rice and other food products" and not bestselling books like Harry Potter. Click here.
  • Carrefour will continue selling the books at the current price, unless the Trade Ministry stops them and Borders has ran out of stock. Click here.
  • Readers complaining that the action of the Big 4 deprived them of the books especially those not living in the vincinity of the hypermarkets. Click here.
Sure, the bookstore business isn't as nice as it looks, behind the soft cushions, well stock aisles, quite nice lighting and coffee chains right inside the store, you are stuck with allegedly low profit margins and a nation of people with not much emphasis on reading books. But the question is now what are the Big 4 going to do with their unsold inventory of HP7 books?

The director of one of the Big 4 even mentioned returning the books (click here) to the distributor. Might as well burn them while you are at it. I would actually recommend discounts or bundles, I don't think the marketing/sales/PR departments are as daft as their upper managements' decision making process, surely they can come up something to sell the books.

Won't work you say, how 'bout this, Borders gave a discount since launch day (20% off with purchase of any other item...just buy a damn pen along with the book if you lack imagination) and managed to sell off their books by yesterday!

Besides, I'm sure that there are readers out there who would throw economics to the wind and prefer to buy the books from bookstores and there are those who don't live near hypermarkets as opposed to bookstores to begin with.

I don't think what the hypermarkets did is wrong, it's a free market afterall. But not selling books, I think the Big 4 has a bigger social obligation to fulfil rather than just profit margins. After all, they are bookstores!