Tue, 24 Jun 2003

Harry Potter sells like hotcakes

Zakki Hakim, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Attention all muggles! The bespectacled little wizard has also begun casting his spell in Jakarta, as bookstores in the city have each claimed to sell over the weekend an average of 100 copies of the latest adventures of Harry Potter.

No fewer than 144 copies of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix flew off the shelves at QB World Books on Jl. Sunda, Central Jakarta, assistant store manager Jeane said on Monday.

In comparison, 100 copies of Dewi "Dee" Lestari's Supernova: Akar took a week to sell.

In total, all three QB outlets in Jakarta have sold some 400 copies, priced at Rp 268,000 (approximately US$32.55) per copy, Jeane told The Jakarta Post. However, the sales were based on orders placed in advance by Potter fans since January.

Over the weekend, QB was crowded with fans picking up their orders or placing new orders, scheduled to arrive at the end of July.

The new orders are priced at Rp 185,000 for editions from the British-based publisher Bloomsbury, and Rp 196,000 from U.S.- based Scholastic -- both hard-cover editions, Jeane said.

Customer service officer at Aksara bookstore Sarah said the latest Potter book had sold like hotcakes.

Aksara also sold about 100 copies last weekend at a price of Rp 200,000 per copy. Sarah said that the bookstore took orders on a minimum down payment of Rp 50,000 and was expecting the next batch of copies to arrive on Tuesday and Friday.

Meanwhile, Gramedia, the largest bookstore chain in the country, has sold at least 100 copies through advance orders taken by telephone, priced at Rp 198,000, customer service officer Agus told the Post.

At Kinokuniya bookstore in Plaza Indonesia, Central Jakarta, 60 copies were sold at Rp 180,000 through advance orders and 100 copies at Rp 225,000 at the outlet over the weekend.

At Times bookstore, at least 125 copies of the book sold out at a price of Rp 225,000 over the weekend.

Jeane added that in the coming weeks bookstores would probably engage in a price war over the sales of the 766-page book.

She said that local hype over the wizard was nothing compared with what was happening in Singapore, London or New York, maybe because of the language barrier.

"Maybe, when the book is translated into Bahasa Indonesia, the hype will shake the city," she said.

Nevertheless, some fans are still so curious at the wizard's latest tale that it has made them browse the Internet to find a draft of the book. However, they have been both disappointed and relieved to discover that the Internet version is a fake.

"I felt relieved that the published version of Harry Potter's fifth book turned out to be different from the one on electronic mailing lists over the last few months," Humam, 24, a student from Bandung, West Java, said on Monday.

When he received the Internet version last month, he immediately regretted that he had made a down payment to QB for the book five months ago, he said.

Eventually, he seemed to be satisfied with the copy he obtained from QB, and said that he could not wait to start reading the latest battle between Harry and "You-Know-Who".

However, no matter what, the bookstores seem to be profiting the most from the launch of J.K. Rowling's latest publication.