Harry Potter brings shoppers through the door for Australian bookshops

Harry Potter

Source: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

Sunday was a day of celebration for booksellers around Australia, with the release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – the much-anticipated addition to the Harry Potter series.

Coming nine years after the publication of the last Harry Potter book, the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child book is in a script format. The theatre production of the same name, which opened in London’s West End over the weekend, is written by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany.

The book is tipped to be the bestselling book since the release of Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows and if the queues of Potter fans outside bookshops on Sunday morning is anything to go by, those predictions appear to be right on the money.

In Sydney, customers lined up for two-and-a-half hours outside the Dymocks store in the CBD to get their hands on a copy of the book, with a spokesperson for the company telling Fairfax the bookselling chain had taken 15,000 pre-orders for the book in the week before its release.

“It will be our biggest sales of a book on its first day in probably five years – maybe even in nine years, since The Deathly Hallows,” said Dymocks spokesperson Sue Bobbermein.

Book buyers are also flocking to online retailers to pick up a copy of the book, with Booktopia chief executive Tony Nash telling SmartCompany this morning pre-orders for the title “smashed past Booktopia pre-order records and first day sales skyrocketed in response to the huge social media and traditional media coverage of the publishing event”.

“Booktopia shipped 7000 pre-ordered copies of Harry Potter on Sunday and we expect strong sales throughout the week as other retailers undercooked their orders and are out of stock.”

Nash is predicting the sales will continue to flow through to the busy Christmas period “as people hunt for presents for their difficult-to-buy-for twenty-something friends”.

A spokesperson for the book’s Australian publisher, Hachette Australia, told SmartCompany the publisher is “thrilled” with the response to the book so far.

“We sold well into the six figures yesterday,” the spokesperson, adding that Hachette is unable to comment on how this compares to sales of previous Harry Potter titles as it did not publish those books.

“Like Christmas” for independents

Leesa Lambert, co-owner of The Little Bookroom in Carlton North in Melbourne, described yesterday at her bookshop as “an epic day – like Christmas trading!”

“About 20 percent of our sales were pre-orders,” Lambert told SmartCompany.

“On top of that, we took RSVPs for our Publication Day celebration, [which was] booked out at 160 people but we think we had more folk come in and join the fun.”

The specialist children’s bookshop also offered free home delivery for the first time, which Lambert says was taken up by around 20 people. It’s a service the bookshop may look at offering again in the future.

Lambert says the $45 price point for the latest Harry Potter book is giving the store’s turnover a welcome boost.

“$45 is much higher than the average kids book, especially a novel,” she says.

“We also haven’t observed any resistance to maintaining our policy of RRP sales. Books are valuable and we are fortunate to be supported by a community who share our point of view.

“We always go the extra mile to add value in other ways – decorating the shop and putting on a show. It is enjoyable and sustainable for us.

“It was a great day, for our spirits and turnover too,” she adds.

Fellow independent bookshop Pages & Pages Booksellers in Mosman, Sydney, took approximately 100 pre-orders for the book and sold out of title on Sunday.

General manager Jon Page told SmartCompany it’s been die-hard Harry Potter fans aged in their 20s who have lead the sales for the title, which has says have not reached the same level as The Deathly Hallows nine years ago.

But Page says the release of The Cursed Child coincides with a “good little period” for the local book industry, with new books also out from popular authors Liane Moriarty last week and Andy Griffiths next week. He says the release of the Harry Potter book, combined with interest in these other titles, meant his store had a “really solid weekend”.

“It’s great to have that one book bringing people into bookshops, it has a real knock-on effect to other books,” Page says.

“There are so many things to choose from … people always find something.”

Today has been The Best Day Ever! Thank you all for sharing the wonder with us: we’re the luckiest muggles around because today we felt the magic! – It was crowded (the sun was out but you couldn’t move inside our darkened Howarts outpost). We are crazy (but we didn’t quite start a fire with our sparklers). Yet fun was had and kids (of all ages) were bursting with excitement about A BOOK. Everyone was patient and kind. The smiles were contagious. – We were too carried away ?? to take photos, so we’re tremendously grateful to Meghan (@piccolo_angelo_photography) for capturing the spirit of the day. – Thank you, marvellous book loving community. YOU are the best! – #harrypotter #cursechild #reading #bookstagram #bookshop #magic #littlebookroom

A photo posted by little_bookroom (@little_bookroom) on

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