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Too Many Harry Potter Books at Home? Sell One Back

July 13, 2005

NEW YORK — 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.

Reuters/VNU

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On the Net:

http://www.alibris.com




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