July 14, 2007


This time, the Potter parties won't fly: Warner Bros. rules anger bookstores (David Mehegan, July 14, 2007, Boston Globe)

Midnight launch parties at bookstores have become a tradition with Harry Potter novels. But with the approach of next Saturday's publication of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," the last book in the series, many of those throwing parties are being forced to revise their plans, including some intended to benefit charities. [...]

The rules for the parties come from both Warner and Scholastic Inc. Scholastic has limited rights to publish the books, and use the artwork in them, in the United States. Warner Bros., part of the Time-Warner empire, owns worldwide rights to the Harry Potter trademarks, including characters, themes, and incidents for use in movies, DVDs, video games, and merchandise from clothing to mugs to toys.

Before they could receive their copies of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," booksellers had to sign a contract with Scholastic. Besides agreeing to keep the books secure until 12:01 a.m. Saturday, they had to agree to a list of guidelines, mainly focused on keeping them from straying beyond the publisher's rights. One item says, "Please ensure that you keep to our policy: that the book marketing campaign should be separate and distinct from the Warner Bros. film campaign and licensed merchandise programs" -- meaning neither images from the movies nor Harry Potter products can be used to promote the book.

It's the section about parties that has booksellers grumbling. Most of the points are uncontroversial -- parties must be decent and safe, nonpolitical, held no earlier or later than 24 hours from the release hour. Other conditions have taken some booksellers by surprise: "No fees are charged for admission or any activities at the event . . . no third parties are associated with the event in any way . . . the event is small-scale, local, non commercial, not-for-profit."

No one is preachier about the evils of commercialization than independent stores, so it's fun to hear them whine about not being able to cash in on the book parties.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 14, 2007 6:50 AM

And the reason that Time Warner has created all those rules is, what? Sometimes, it seems as if the goal of all corporations is to see that no one has any fun at any time.

Posted by: Brandon at July 14, 2007 9:49 AM

It's because middle management for a lot of large companies is composed of wannabe socialists and bureacrats who want to bring "compassion" and "social responsibility" and "diversity" to their companies, and the only way they they've been taught how to do that is by massive, from-the-top, micromanagment directives like this one. (and I think it's Scholastic making the rules, not Time Warner)

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at July 14, 2007 11:11 AM