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EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 561 - June 20, 2003 - ISSN 1539-5065    2 of 2

eBay and Amazon Caught up in 'Harry Potter' Hype

By Ina Steiner
June 20, 2003

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Bookstores around the world will likely rejoice tomorrow when they can finally call off the extra security required to guard "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix." The fifth installment of the 7-book series is due out at 1 minute after midnight tonight - and not a second sooner. The secrecy surrounding the latest release of the popular children's book has spawned thefts of the book before release and even lawsuits to prevent newspapers from publishing early reviews.

Harry Potter's popularity has spawned product licensing that would make Walt Disney proud, with the Harry Potter character featured on everything from bedding to toothbrushes. A search on eBay for Harry Potter brings visitors to a special page set up to help direct buyers to just what they are looking for (http://keyword.ebay.com/keyword/harrypotter.html). Did you want Toys & Hobbies, Collectibles, Books, Entertainment, Clothing Shoes & Accessories, or Home? Or maybe you would like to see the top 13 searches by fellow users looking for Harry Potter? "Harry Potter Books" comes in third place, preceded by "Harry Potter Scarf" and "Harry Potter DVD."

A search on "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" netted 160 current and 100 closed listings. But read the fine print: many sellers indicate they will not ship the book until June 21.

Shoppers can also purchase Harry Potter from online bookstores. On June 4, Amazon said it had received orders for over 1 million copies of "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix."

In the U.S., Amazon.com teamed up with FedEx and the U.S. Postal Service to have them deliver Book 5 to buyers across the country tomorrow. "In what is expected to produce the largest distribution event of any single item in e-commerce history, Amazon.com is offering this special delivery, at no additional cost, to customers who select Standard shipping when ordering the book" (http://www.amazon.com/hp5_help).

So online and offline booksellers can heave a sigh of relief that the secrecy surrounding Book 5 will be over tomorrow. Five down, two more to go.

About the author:

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.

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