Serpent's sting for Harry Potter
Serpent's Tail is going head to head with Bloomsbury by releasing an adult-oriented "anti-Hogwarts" novel at the same time as the final Harry Potter, at midnight on 19th July.
Like Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Danny King's School for Scumbags takes place in a boarding school, but instead of learning magic, boys learn thievery. "It's Harry Potter on crack," the publisher said. Inspiration for the midnight launch will be taken from the book and is being kept "under wraps". "The subscription won't be as big, but we expect to outsell HP7 by Christmas," said publisher Pete Ayrton.
Meanwhile, Bloomsbury has rebutted reports that HP7 will be delivered in containers fastened with steel chains, and remains tight-lipped over the company's security plans. "Of course we'll clamp down, we always do, [but] it's just too sensitive to talk about," said project manager Sarah Beal.
She batted away fears that, without the threat of being excluded from a future Potter title, retailers could break the embargo on HP7: "There's always a worry, but we trust our customers and we have a good relationship with them. An embargo is an embargo." Beal added that HP embargoes had never been "deliberately" broken in the UK.
No major retailer would comment on whether it expected the embargo to be broken or further price reductions on HP7, but W H Smith—which is pricing the book at £10.99 instore or £9.97 online—has upped its offer by throwing in two £5 vouchers redeemable on purchases over £12, in addition to a free copy of Garth Nix's Mister Monday.
Amazon.co.uk's pre-orders reached the 250,000 mark this week, after offering the book for £8.99 and guaranteeing release date delivery. The online retailer also promises a pre-order price guarantee so that customers benefit from any further reductions.
Tesco and Asda have both dipped below half price to £8.87, while Waterstone's is charging £8.99, and offering an exclusive Wizardology book free with each purchase. Play.com and Borders are both offering the title for £11.99.