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Friday July 20, 2007

Potter price war: Penguin, hypermarts respond (3rd update)

PETALING JAYA: The distributor of Harry Potter books said that local bookstore chains should not be overly concerned by hypermarkets' cut-throat pricing of the seventh and final instalment in J.K. Rowling bestselling series. 

The hypermarkets would incur losses by selling the novel at a cheaper price, as their purchase price is higher, said Penguin Singapore and Malaysia managing director Eddy Teo. 

He said there would be no replenishment on top of the opening order due to unavailable stock, and the British publisher of the novel, Bloomsbury, had no plans at the moment for reprints. 

“We are confident that readers will choose to buy their books from other retailers across the country. 

“Avid fans are looking for a magical atmosphere rather than just cheap price,” he said when contacted in Singapore Friday. 

MPH, Popular, Harris and Times at a press conference in Kuala Lumpur at 4pm announced that they would not sell Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in protest against Carrefour and Tesco selling the book at a hefty discount. 

The recommended retail price of RM109.90 is being violated by hypermarkets advertising and selling it at RM69.90, the bookstores said. 

The four chains, with a total of 100 outlets nationwide, said they were protesting the indiscriminate discount and wanted to show customers that they were not "blatantly profiteering" from them. 

However, they said they would honour all pre-orders. 

"This means the book will no longer be available for sale at these stores nationwide from tomorrow (Saturday) following the worldwide release," MPH Bookstores chief operating officer Patricia Chen said. 

"All events related to Harry Potter will be cancelled," she said. 

When asked if the move was to pressure sole distributor Penguin Books to remove the book from the hypermarkets, she said that it was not fair to allow hypermarkets to sell such a popular book when they were not in the book business. 

When contacted, Carrefour Malaysia corporate communications and public relations manager Yuswanis Yusof said they wanted to provide the best for their customers. 

She said besides selling groceries and other essential products, the hypermarket wanted to provide a chance for their customers to purchase the book at a lower price. 

"It all depends on how one markets and promote its products," she added. 

Tesco Malaysia division manager Janice Chan when contacted said they wanted to make sure their customers could read the book at a cheaper price. 

"We are popular for selling products at a lower price, and books are no exception. 

"The other retailers have their own marketing strategies by providing freebies and other promotions, this is our way of pleasing our customers," she added. 

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows goes on sale nationwide -- well, except for the four bookstore chains above -- from 7.01am tomorrow.


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