No Potter 'halo effect' seen for publishers

  July 25, 2003 at 3:14 PM ET
  Cheeser     HPANA (via AP via Yahoo! News)
 


Publishers like Scholasticopens in new window and Simon & Schusteropens in new window should be celebrating. The successful release of the fifth Harry Potter book and the memoirs of former first lady Hillary Clinton was expected, but other publishers had hoped the book-buying bandwagon would help their sales as well. Instead, a stagnant economy and distracted public has quickly steered the focus away from booksellers.

Scholastic laid off 400 employees and in July said it will execute other cost-cutting measures. Simon & Schuster announced this week they would release 75 employees.

From the Associated Pressopens in new window:

"... the fact remains that our industry continues to be challenged by any number of issues, including the most prolonged period of depressed sales in memory," Simon & Schuster CEO Jack Romanos wrote in a companywide e-mail.

Amazon.comopens in new window, anticipating tremendous competition for the Potter book, offered a 40 percent discount on the $29.99 suggested price. The result: Despite more than 1 million sales worldwide, the online retailer announced it essentially broke even with Order of the Phoenix.

While sales should be strong for the memoirs of former Secretary of State Madeline Albrightopens in new window and Toni Morrison's new novel, Loveopens in new window, no fall releases are likely to sell in numbers approaching Potter.

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