June 21, 2003

CHEAP HARRY

Hey, local Harry Potter freaks. Donít buy the new Potter book at a major bookstore. Buy it at K-mart, where it only costs $30 - a $15 discount. Use your savings to buy Harry Potterô petrol or codeine, or whatever Potter stuff they're selling these days.

UPDATE. Mark Steyn writes:

Well, the big day is here! Around the world this morning, bookstores opened their doors and millions of customers who'd spent the night waiting patiently in long lines eagerly stampeded to the counter and said, "Here's the copy of Living History I bought last week. I'd like my money back, please."

ANOTHER UPDATE. Caz writes:

Thank you for flocking to the mall en masse today and getting in my way and ruining my holistic shopping experience, you freaks.

Iíd also like to mention that I saw two ADULTS sitting on a bench outside Collins in Westfield Belconnen reading their new Harry Potter books in public. What tools! Like they couldnít wait to get home, they had to start reading a stupid kids book in a major thoroughfare. That is all kinds of fuckwittedness.

Donít any of you people have a home to go to?

Best wishes,

Someone who would like to see JK Rowling impaled on a stake

UPDATE THE THIRD. Bookseller Sean Hackbarth reports
from the center of the publishing whirlwind.

Posted by Tim Blair at June 21, 2003 04:44 PM
Comments

You can buy it online from Angus and Robertson for AUD 29.95, sparing you the experience of the K-mart cattle yard.

Better still, you could spend the $50 on five or six Puffin Classics.

Posted by: Angus Young's Gibson SG at June 21, 2003 at 05:39 PM

I plan to buy the Potter book eventually -- probably when it comes out in paperback. Overpriced hardcovers? Feh.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at June 21, 2003 at 05:48 PM

It was actually AUD$27.95 at Kmart - I started heading towards Kmart at 9:10 and was out with the book at 9:12 - no queues. The queues at Collins and Dymocks had still not cleared by the time I reached my car.

Posted by: Russell at June 21, 2003 at 08:40 PM

nice tip - although after the headache HP caused me today - I'm not sure I'll get one for a while...

Posted by: Darren Rowse at June 22, 2003 at 12:03 AM

This to "Caz": as an adult who has read any number of books (some of which would be designated to the "children's book" ghetto) in public I'd like to apologize for my fellow readers' disturbing you with their existence. I hope that the sound of the pages being turned didn't cause permanent hearing loss.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at June 22, 2003 at 04:33 AM

Go, Andrea. Not enough people read "The Wind in the Willows" "Alice Through the Looking Glass" and many other _children's_ classics. Caz would be a better person if he (?) had read and enjoyed them. Tsk.

Posted by: Prof Dave at June 22, 2003 at 05:12 AM

Could be sour grapes on Caz's part. I know I wish I'd written 'em!

Posted by: wen at June 22, 2003 at 07:35 AM

Could be sour grapes on Caz's part. I know I wish I'd written 'em!

Posted by: wen at June 22, 2003 at 07:36 AM

oops - but I really, really, really do

Posted by: wen at June 22, 2003 at 07:37 AM

No not sour grapes, and I certainly have no problems with people reading. More people should do it.

My problem with this is that I am deeply suspicious they are only reading Harry Potter because it is the trendy thing to do and this is the only book they'll buy or read all year, because they are suckers for marketing hype. That disturbs me and I make no apologies for it. Yes good on any parents who encourage their kids to read, but there are thousands and thousands of other better books out there.

Posted by: Caz at June 22, 2003 at 08:52 AM

Prof Dave I read and loved Wind in the WIllows, Alice through the looking glass, all the Narnia books etc. I was quite a bookworm as a child. That doesn't make Harry Potter good literature in my book. But how funny you think you can judge me based on that.

Posted by: Caz at June 22, 2003 at 08:54 AM

Harry Potter is definitely one of the best book series being printed today. It's not just random chance either. There's a difference between good writing and bad, and it's quite subtle. Rowling has apparently studied writing a great deal, and combined that with her natural talent to produce a modern masterpiece, easily on par with "The Wizard of Oz" or "The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe."

In fact, it may actually be better than either. Some of the later Oz/Narnia books dragged dreadfully, but Potter is still going strong, and seems to be growing stronger with each new addition, rather than weaker.

Posted by: Tatterdemalian at June 22, 2003 at 08:55 AM

Give me Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, two "childrens" books that have stood the test of time...

Posted by: Wallace at June 22, 2003 at 09:12 AM

Cz doth enscribe: "I am deeply suspicious they are only reading Harry Potter because it is the trendy thing to do and this is the only book they'll buy or read all year, because they are suckers for marketing hype."

Hyuh. Translation: "If I don't think it's good literature, then no one else can possibly think so either -- they must be reading it for some other sinister reason.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at June 22, 2003 at 09:45 AM

actually I was thinking of the money ( a bit basic, but it's freezing here, the heater's on the blink & I'll bet JKR can afford to keep her 'Edinburgh castle' toasty). As to its success v. its literary merit - who knows? I spent my childhood with my nose in books but was never interested in fantasy (too childish!) Have read the Narnia books as an adult, & the Harry Potter books all at once after badgering by my kids....The Narnia books are beautiful, the characters complex, the allegory subtle - but my children wont read it - perhaps its too slow, perhaps it's dated. Rowling's prose isn't that assured: sometimes the dialogue's creaky, occasionally the narration's awkward, maybe the plot's a little too thick - but its a really good story & it certainly got me hooked.(I dreamed I was a quidditch master for weeks)

It may be hyped beyond its worth (oh my feet are cold!), but it seems to me to be a good thing when people & especially children - queue to buy books.

Posted by: wen at June 22, 2003 at 09:48 AM

If you think having sheep mentality is sinister Andrea, then yes.

Posted by: Caz at June 22, 2003 at 09:53 AM

Meant to say too, Caz, that there aren't really all that many "better" books out there. Not for the same age group, same genre. Not being written now. Pity.
(Though Phillip Pullman's series, also UK, is an exception )

Posted by: wen at June 22, 2003 at 10:13 AM

I admire JK Rowling and think she is a great example of the benefits of a capitalist/consumer society. She didn't write some cheap book targeted at a specific demographic, she wrote a book for her own damned self and it happened to sell well.

That the title is still selling is no reason to begrudge her, nor is having a lot of fans. To say you want to see her impaled on a stick is truely quite sad and you can go to hell and die. It's her book, she's getting good money, and goddamnit you wanna give me a good goddamned reason why she should have such harsh things said about her based on her success and fans 'FANatic behaviour'?

Next week:
Caz bitches about Bill Gates, Dick Smith and basically anyone else who happened to be succesful and didn't have the money fall in their lap.

Great to see you so supportive of the wonderous nature of opportunity in a capitalist enviroment.

p.s. I've never read a Potter book. Though I think the Potter movies go down better with mature audiences than the new Star Wars.

Posted by: Ken at June 22, 2003 at 12:11 PM

I am waiting for the reality "Harry Potter" book; tentative working title "Harry Potter and the Act of Gross Indecency with Hogwarts Housemasters".

Posted by: paul bickford at June 22, 2003 at 12:16 PM

And by the way- if you want to read about someone who rides brooms, you can do it for free at the Sydney Morning Herald's "Web Diary".

Posted by: paul bickford at June 22, 2003 at 12:17 PM

Forget K-Mart.

I picked up a copy for my son yesterday at The Warehouse for $22.43

http://www.thewarehouse.com.au/

Posted by: Brendan at June 22, 2003 at 01:11 PM

Damn - if I'd thought about checking out the Warehouse I wouldn't have bothered going up to the upper level of the mall. Such is life!

Posted by: Russell at June 22, 2003 at 01:28 PM

"Give me Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, two "childrens" books that have stood the test of time..."


personally, i hated huckleberry finn. especially the way it was written. i know, i know, twain wrote that way to show how the chars talked, but it was quite irritating.

Posted by: Samkit at June 22, 2003 at 01:47 PM

"Sheep mentality." Oh my god. Never mind -- I don't bother debating when that's the best defense the other party can muster. I'll leave Caz on his mountaintop above us lesser beings.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at June 22, 2003 at 02:38 PM

Following the success of the Moxi V's Moxipop mud resoling we present you with Andrea Harris V's Caz cat fight.

Posted by: Gary at June 22, 2003 at 03:01 PM

You're too late. This cat is going for more tasty mice.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at June 22, 2003 at 03:29 PM

Was at my local bookstore c.1730hrs and heard about 9 hours of 'Harry Potter'; purchased Sharpe's Havoc (hardcover) instead and am content.

cheers

Posted by: J.M. Heinrichs at June 22, 2003 at 03:42 PM

You were at the bookstore for 9 hours? I love bookstores, but I don't know if I'd want to spend that much time in one without being an employee.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at June 22, 2003 at 04:21 PM

For U.S. people, I regret to say Wal-Mart is beating my employer on Harry Potter. My store is selling it for $19.00 (including tax) while Wal-Mart is selling it for a little over $17. Even if you count the differences due to local sales taxes, Wal-Mart still turns out cheaper.

Posted by: Sean Hackbarth at June 22, 2003 at 04:44 PM

Glad to see someone mentioning Philip Pullman here. I'm nearing the end of the His Dark Materials trilogy, which is a lot more visionary and exciting than I suspect Harry Potter's adventures will ever be.

Posted by: James Russell at June 22, 2003 at 06:00 PM

Opinions are such a funny thing... people like to have them, but put other people down for having their own. So here is my opinion. Harry Potter is just a fucking marketing fad, made to plunder the savings accounts of children. JKR should burn in hell for this.

Posted by: J.M. Heinrichs at June 22, 2003 at 06:06 PM

Yeh Heinrichs, and if I buy the 'Bulletin' Tim Blair is plundering my bank account and should burn in Berkerely.

Posted by: Ken at June 22, 2003 at 08:44 PM

you don't get out much, do you jm?

i just finished the book this morning. like the other 4 books, it is exceedingly well written. she has quite a knack for writing in an age-appropriate style for her characters. this 15 year old harry speaks, acts, and thinks much diferently than the 11 year old harry did. a good read, and an engrossinging story.

Posted by: Mr. Bingley at June 23, 2003 at 02:39 AM

Everyone who reads books I don't read, watches tv shows I don't watch, goes to movies I have dismissed as not being worth my time, and eats anything with mayonnaise on it should be tied to railroad tracks and run over by seven consecutive Amtrak passenger trains until there is nothing left but a grease spot on the gravel. And then the populace of the earth should go on pilgrimage to the spot to spit on it, and all record of their existence should then be wiped from the records.

There, is that how it's done?

Posted by: Andrea Harris at June 23, 2003 at 03:03 AM

andrea, what are the odds of amtrak getting seven trains in a row to work?

Posted by: Mr. Bingley at June 23, 2003 at 03:06 AM

Rather low, I should think. So the people who aren't Unique Individuals Just Like Me are safe for now.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at June 23, 2003 at 04:29 AM

The consensus amongst model railroaders is that the Hogwarts Express train set is not just a marketing fad, made to plunder the savings accounts of children, but will in fact lead some youngsters into model railroading as surely as the Harry Potter books are introducing far more young people to the joy of reading. That's the deep evil secret. The nefarious publishers are coming out with books people enjoy in order to get them hooked. Before you know it these kids will be pestering their parents for copies of The Castle of Otranto.

Posted by: triticale at June 23, 2003 at 09:34 AM

"plunder the savings accounts of children"???
yes, well....maybe some kids.

As to The Castle of Otranto - that's wishful thinking too - the nearest my kids get to Gothic is Buffy. Won't read anything from the nineteenth century, let alone the eighteenth (I think they're afraid it'll be in black & white....)

Posted by: wen at June 23, 2003 at 09:52 AM

It was tough, sweaty palms, the shakes, all the signs of an addict but, managed ...to...resist...by chanting... must wait to return ..home ...before ...reading Harry Potter.

Finished it Sunday Afternoon and I have the tremens again, I want Harry Potter books six and seven. Where are they, help, help.

Posted by: d at June 23, 2003 at 12:03 PM

I would say I (just) prefer the Terry Pratchett discworld novels, but they are clearly aimed at an older audience, at least after the first 5 books.

Posted by: Patrick at June 23, 2003 at 04:35 PM

triticale/wen,
otranto-schmanto, my money's on them picking up 'the italian'! moody landscapes, evil monks...why, it's durstrang!

Posted by: Mr. Bingley at June 23, 2003 at 11:03 PM

Before you know it these kids will be pestering their parents for copies of The Castle of Otranto.

I'm having trouble imagining anyone desperate enough to read Otranto that they would actively pester for a copy...

Posted by: James Russell at June 24, 2003 at 08:44 PM