July 13, 2005

Too many Potter books at home? Sell one back

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. online bookseller Alibris said on
Tuesday it had launched a special offer to buy used copies of
the new "Harry Potter" book for $5 as it seeks to meet demand
for the most eagerly awaited book of the year.

British author J.K. Rowling's sixth book about the young
wizard, "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," is scheduled
to be released on July 16 amid a huge global publicity blitz
and more than 10 million copies are ready for sale in the
United States alone.

Alibris, which normally buys used or remaindered books from
libraries and bookstores, is targeting parents whose children
pressure them into buying more than one copy of the book so
that all siblings can read it on the day of the launch.

California-based Alibris has posted a notice on its Web
site offering to buy used copies for $5 and to pay the postage.
Chief Executive Marty Manley said it was the first time the
company had appealed directly to readers in this way.

"I have two boys, a 9-year-old and a 13-year-old, and I'm
sure I'm going to be buying two books so I'm going to end up
with one extra," he told Reuters.

"It's a test," Manley said. "With this book it wouldn't
take a very large share of the primary market to get the
secondary market going," he said, adding that by the time
Alibris pays around $4 for shipping, his total outlay is $9.

Manley said the sale price would be determined by demand
but would clearly be lower than the cheapest online offers for
new copies.

Online retail giant Amazon.com Inc is offering the book at
$17.99, a steep discount from the cover price of $29.99. Amazon
said on Tuesday the sixth book in the series had set a record
as its largest new product release ever.

Amazon said customers so far have ordered more than 1.4
million copies of the U.S. and U.K. editions, overtaking the
1.3 million pre-orders for "Harry Potter and the Order of the
Phoenix," which was the previous book in the series.

Major U.S. bookseller Barnes & Noble Inc. said earlier this
week its pre-orders had topped 1 million.

Alibris said the offer expires on Sept. 15 and was limited
to the U.S. hardcover edition.

The company invites readers to print free shipping labels
from its Web site.

Parents hoping to return excess copies should be careful to
stop their children fighting over the books -- only copies in
"very good condition" will be accepted.