Publisher cancels supermarket’s Potter order

/ Source: The Associated Press

The publisher of the new Harry Potter book said it canceled shipments to one of Britain’s largest supermarket chains, owned by Wal-Mart, in a dispute over unpaid bills.

Publisher Bloomsbury PLC said it had canceled delivery of 500,000 copies of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” to Asda stores.

Bloomsbury’s marketing director, Minna Fry, said the publisher hoped to resolve the dispute before the book — the seventh and final installment in the boy wizard’s adventures — is published on Saturday.

Asda, however, said it had already sent the money.

Bloomsbury had no immediate comment. Neither side would disclose the amount of money involved.

Fry had said earlier Asda failed to settle bills with the publisher.

“It has been going on a while, going on for weeks actually, and we always said we wouldn’t provide them with the books until that was sorted out. And that’s what’s happening,” Fry told British Broadcasting Corp. radio.

Joel Rickett, news editor of trade magazine The Bookseller, said it would be “extraordinary” if a retailer as big as Asda did not have the book in stock.

“There would be a lot of disappointed children, and financially as well it would be a huge blow for Asda, in terms of revenue if not in terms of profit,” he said.

Asda accused Bloomsbury of “attempting to hold children to ransom” by setting the price too high.

Asda said Bloomsbury is retaliating for its criticism of the book’s recommended retail price of $37 (17.99 pounds). Asda plans to sell “Deathly Hallows” for $18.14 (8.87 pounds).

“Setting the RRP (Recommended Retail Price) at this level can only be seen as blatant profiteering on their part,” said Peter Pritchard, Director of General Merchandise at Asda.

Bloomsbury denied the dispute was connected to the price of the book. Many large chains are offering “Deathly Hallows” at big discounts, with supermarket Tesco matching Asda’s price and book chain Waterstone’s selling it for 8.99 pounds ($18.38; 13.35 euros).