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Yes, Virginia, Harry Potter Changed the Publishing Industry

As sales of HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS climb enough to sell out its first printing – prompting Scholastic to up the number of copies in print to 14 million – AP’s Hillel Italie asks a slew of publishing movers and shakers how Harry Potter has changed the industry. First, no book could have possibly sold this quickly. “With Potter, you have almost a perfect storm of events,” said Steve Ross, president and publisher of Collins, a division of HarperCollins. “You have changes in technology and capacity, the synergy that worked so effectively between the books and the movies, and, most importantly…they were books of startling quality.”

Doubleday Broadway president and publisher Steve Rubin credits Potter for changing the way the imprint will market the next book by Dan Brown. “I surely would hesitate before trying to do something like 12 million copies…but thanks largely to Potter, we can think about numbers we wouldn’t have imagined before.” Other ways Harry Potter changed and was changed: fewer distribution hubs causing more efficient delivery patterns; better technology enabling email use for manuscript delivery, supply and demand updates and communication; and a blockbuster mentality helped by the movies. “It wasn’t conceivable for a hardcover book to have that kind of sales, even for a book as sought after as Jaws,” said Random House spokesperson Stuart Appelbaum. “At that time, the mass market paperback was the format for multimillion sellers. But mass merchandisers weren’t selling as many books, and at the same velocity, as they do today.”

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