I’ve been seeing quite a bit of commentary about J K Rowling’s newly announced book along the lines of the tweet below(1):
Very exciting news - new J.K. Rowling adult novel planned! Cannot wait! And great news for booksellers as well! bit.ly/xsNOuT—
The O'Brien Press (@OBrienPress) February 24, 2012
The Bookseller also reported some great positive comments like:
Jonathan Ruppin, Foyles web editor, said: “It is clearly huge news, it is the talk of the office already. It will be the biggest selling book of that time, I am sure other publishers will move their books out of schedules to make room for it.
But the truth is there are reasons to expect that the book will NOT be a boost to booksellers. Many reasons in fact, but here are just four:
1) Supermarkets. Like they did with Harry Potter, it seems highly likely that supermarkets will attempt to attract buyers into their stores by selling the new book below cost. Such competition makes such highly hyped titles difficult to sell for independent booksellers and even chains have trouble competing with the likes of Tesco.
2) Ebooks. Well the truth is that booksellers will largely NOT benefit from ebook sales, rather Amazon, Apple and Kobo along with whoever sells the ebook editions will.
3) Online Sales. I suppose the online retailers will do well, but pre-orders, especially through Amazon and Amazon owned sites will probably be the key winner in this space, rather than through independent or chain bookstores.
4) The Economy. So J K Rowling will do well from this but in an environment where free cash is limited the likelihood is that the book will simply change purchasing patterns in the book trade rather than expand the market. Rowling’s big name will attract money and books released around the same time will do less well than they might have with the overall impact being neutral to moderately positive rather than massive. Thus isn’t, I stress, an attack on Rowling, simply the reality of how things go.
All told I’m fairly pleased to see Rowling move past Potter and I think it was wise to move publisher at the same time enabling a proper brand extension. There’s a big part of me hopes that I am wrong, but a bigger part that expects to be right!
(1) And I am not picking on The O’Brien Press here!