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Harry Potter price war starts

19 February 2007

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows will hit bookshops on 21 July. But a full five months before the just-announced publication date of the next Harry Potter title, a price war has already broken out. Waterstone's in the UK have just announced that they will be selling it at £8.99 ($17.53), with a free copy of Wizards of the World, worth £10.99 ($21.43). Amazon UK netted over 100,000 pre-orders in just two days. In the US, Amazon smashed the one-day pre-order record with a 547% increase compared to the last book, with the price of $34.99 (£17.94) discounted to $18.89 (£9.54).

Given that J K Rowling's series has been a record-breaking international hit, frenzied scenes can be expected all over the world on 21 July, as eager children bag the new book and booksellers around the globe cash in on what is expected to be the last book in the series.

In UK bookshops there is real regret that what should be a sales bonanza for the trade will not contribute any real money. The supermarkets are expected to discount so heavily that even the book chains will struggle to match their prices. Many independent bookshops will stock the book to satisfy regular customers' demand, but do not expect to make anything out of it. Cat Banks of Corbett's Children's Bookshop in Ealing, London said: 'It is very sad, though, as it's the end of an era and no-one will make any money.'

Tough security will surround the book itself, as excitement mounts about the ending of the series. J K Rowling has already admitted that two of the series' characters will die. She has told readers on her website that Deathly Hallows was her 'favourite' Harry Potter book of the entire series. It may well continue the trend towards a darker, more adult, story, as Harry grows up and the 'good versus evil' struggle of the series comes to its culmination.

But just in case we think that the Harry Potter series dominates children's reading, it's worth pointing out that the Children's Laureate, Jacqueline Wilson, is for the second year running the most borrowed author in Britain 's libraries, beating not just J K Rowling but also Dan Brown. That's because, at something over 60 titles (all the official websites are a bit coy about the actual figure), she is much more prolific than either of these comparative newcomers to the bestseller lists.