HP-4: Bloomsbury and Asda at War

By Carmen Comment

Boy, this is big news in its own right: the Bookseller reported that Bloomsbury had canceled Asda‘s 500,000 Harry Potter order and declared the supermarket a “Harry Potter free zone”. The publisher said that it had taken the decision because it had not been paid by the chain, but it has also been angered by the supermarket’s claim that it was holding “children to ransom” over the price of the latest Harry Potter. Words were exchanged in newspapers and on the radio, and the war isn’t about to abate anytime soon, even if an Asda spokesman says, the money for overdue bills “will be in their bank account tomorrow. Customers can rest assured that they will be able to pick up a Potter at an Asda price.” That’s because the threat of legal action on both sides looms, with Asda saying that if Bloomsbury doesn’t deliver, the publishing house will be in “breach of contract.”

Though Neil Denny gives Bloomsbury “full marks”
for slapping Asda down, if the supermarket chain pays as promised, oddly enough it may become a bit of a win-win-situation for both sides – Asda gets the books, and Bloomsbury stands on principles. “Of course, for the wider reading public the whole exercise is baffling and a little unnerving, making it ever more obvious that the rrp printed on the back of books is a piece of fiction quite the equal of anything dreamt up by a novelist,” Denny points out. “The full cost of the scales falling from consumer’s eyes since the demise of the net book agreement is yet to be calculated.”