An interesting article about the publication of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows analyzes the ramifications of low prices and how they affect booksellers in the UK. It mentions that regardless of how much the publishers, Bloomsbury, sells the books, outlets compete against each other to offer the best prices for fans and state that while they will not be making a large profit, lower prices leads to foot traffic and the hope that those people will buy other items in the stores.
Gerry Johnson, the managing director of Waterstone's comments that:
We look at Harry Potter in the round in terms of our commercial position. We see it as beyond just a book. The most exciting thing about it is that it will be the biggest day of footfall in the whole year. It is good to see that number of people in the stores and they will like what they see.
Meanwhile independent bookshop Crockatt and Powell posted on their site a catchy plea "C'mon folks, cancel your pre-orders at the giants and help us give a little back," stating that they will sell the book for full price and donate £9 to the local primary school to spend on books for its library.
In marketing terms, enticing customers to a store by lowering the price of one key item is called loss leader and it's not that uncommon. But Minna Fry, Bloomsbury's marketing director, calls the excessive discounting of Potter "distressing," and adds:
We are trying to price it at what we think it is worth and let everyone else decide how they are going to sell it. But it really is frustrating.
The retailers are purely after market share. It is so distressing. With something as premium as Harry, I don't think any other business would chop their leads to nothing. We don't want to feed the bunfight and don't see it as our place to do it.