Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Harry Strikes Again

From Scholastic Inc's web site:

New York, NY (March 14, 2007) -- NEW YORK, NEW YORK – MARCH 14, 2007 -Scholastic Inc.... announced today that J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows will have a record-breaking first printing of 12 million copies in the U.S., and a multi-million dollar marketing campaign to support the highly anticipated release at 12:01 a.m. on July 21st. The first printing for the seventh book in the Harry Potter series breaks the record held by the sixth book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, which had a 10.8 million first printing in 2005 and sold 6.9 million copies in the first 24 hours.
Don't get me wrong -- I love Harry Potter and will most definitely get this book -- but it's sort of depressing to read this. Twelve MILLION copies? With sales possibilities like that, what publisher would take a chance on a novel that would appeal to, say, just ONE million readers... or ONE hundred thousand? Will this huge print run encourage what many have seen as the publishing industry's inclination to go where the large sales are, and leave behind worthy novels just because the market is smaller?

But, of course, if I put myself in the publisher's place, why WOULDN'T I go for the big sales? After all, they're not a charitable organization. They're in business to make money, and I don't mean that in a pejorative manner. They're not in business to lose money or break even. They're in business to MAKE money.

So what about the novels that appeal to smaller audiences, but whose story is worth hearing, whose words are worth reading? Will they disappear?

Funny that I should be asking this in March, which just happens to be Small Press Month. I stumbled on that fact while visiting my publisher's web site. Maybe that's what got me thinking.

Support the small press. Your mind will thank you.

1 comment:

Lupa said...

Hi there,

I found your blog via your web site, which I hunted down after doing a review of "The Old Power Returns".

One of the reasons I went with Immanion Press as a publisher is because the owner, Storm Constantine, started it as a way to get her back catalog into print for longer than "the shelf life of a magazine" as she put it. While it started out strictly fiction, the later nonfiction pagan/occult line focuses particularly on niche topics that might not get a lot of sales at B&N, but have dedicated readers nonetheless.

I think as long as there are people willing to put out the effort there will be small presses that get out the works that the big publishers ignore. This is especially thanks to advances in print-on-demand technology, and more responsible use of it (as opposed to vanity presses), as well as the online market (at least as long as Amazon remains fair in its presentation of books).

This is why I support small presses in general, as well as non-chain book stores. If the market is completely determined by the large publishers and chain stores, then we are by default censored in regards to what we read. Additionally, good authors whose books may only sell in the thousands instead of the millions can still get a chance.

Anyway, thanks for blogging this. It's nice to see someone who feels similarly to me on this matter.