Yet Another Discussion of Supply and Demand

November 1st, 2005 · No Comments
by Booksquare

We have yet to note a scenario where an publisher fails to over-anticipate demand for books. Scholastic, apparently, got a little giddy after the first day of sales for the latest Harry Potter title and went and started the printing presses. Now they have approximately 2.5 million more copies of the book than they need.

Stacks of unsold copies are collecting dust in bookstores and warehouses across the US, and Scholastic – the world’s largest distributor of children’s books, and best known in the UK for Clifford the Big Red Dog – is bracing itself for an avalanche of returned copies.

All things considered, this number seems almost logical. The logistics of book publishing combined with an eager book-buying public make it easy to see how Scholastic would err on the side of too many copies. Hopefully they will learn a valuable lesson. It is this sort of thinking that has us doubtful on that score:

Mr [Richard] Robinson [Scholastic chairman] told book-trade analysts he had no plans for accepting large numbers of returned books. He expects that the release in the US of the film Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire on 18 November will generate renewed interest in the series and mop up the overrun.

Yeah, that’s the ticket, pretend you don’t need a strategic plan. Sure, Scholastic could discount the book, donate to libraries, keep the titles in storage — it’s not like there won’t be future generations of readers who will need their very own copies of the series. But there will be another Harry Potter in a year or so and this type of miscalculation, already hurting the bottom line, will only increase the publisher’s woes.

We know, we know, if only they’d listen to us.

File Under: Square Pegs