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New Harry Potter Script Book is the Most Pre-Ordered of 2016 – Will It Also be the Most Disappointing?

harry potter cursed childAs I am sure you know, the latest installment in the Harry Potter saga is now one of the most popular books of the year.

The new broke first last week that Amazon (and then this week, Barnes & Noble) had revealed that the new book had set  a record for pre-orders.

B&N is expecting it to be the best-selling title in 2016, and Amazon is even feeding into the frenzy by promising midnight deliveries via Amazon Flex (this is the secret midnight product launch you read about last week, yes).

So a lot of people are ordering the book, and we’re looking at hundreds of thousands of copies (both print and digital) being delivered in the first few days.

But how many will be happy with their purchases?

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is not a novel but a script book for the stage play of the same name. In terms of layout and structure, it’s going to resemble one of Shakespeare’s plays more than it will look like one of the previous Harry Potter novels.

Will everyone be happy about that, and do you think they knew what they were buying when they clicked the button?

Ever since the story broke last week, I have been pondering that question. Speaking from strictly personal experience, I can easily see how many if not most of the eager buyers misunderstood what they were ordering.

What are the chances that this becomes one of the most returned books of 2016? (And if not the most returned book, then the most unwanted book in charity and second-hand shops?)

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James Heskett July 26, 2016 um 6:31 pm

I predict 100% of Amazon reviews will be either 1 star or 5 star.

Fjtorres July 26, 2016 um 6:53 pm

If so, it would be following in the wake of the 2014 and 2015 top sellers…
(Goldfinch and Go Set a Watchman, right?)

Robert July 27, 2016 um 9:05 am

The Goldfinch….Zzzzzzz

Will Entrekin July 27, 2016 um 9:05 am

Definitely see where you’re coming from, but the Amazon title info pretty clearly notes it’s a script not once but twice, just in case the "Special Rehearsal Edition Script" at the top of the cover in black on yellow was missed (or, perhaps, cropped). Looks like everyone involved went out of their way to indicate that it’s a script.

I think reactions will generally go one of three ways, the first of which is complete ambivalence. The second is the disappointment you mention.

The third might be that people become interested in a format unlike they’re generally used to, which would be pretty great (selfishly I kinda hope for this one. I studied screenwriting and last year published a screenplay adaptation of one of my novels). The tricky thing is that when it comes to plays, whether for stage or screen, contrary to what the Bard maintained, the plays really are not the thing at all. When you have a novel, that’s the complete thing, the story told as intended. On the other hand, when you have a play or a screenplay, it’s the start of something intended to be produced, ultimately. As such, just as I think ebooks should generally cost less than print books (without physical manufacture involved), so too should plays/screenplays arguably cost less, as well.

Robert July 27, 2016 um 11:43 am

Yes, it is clearly labeled but I think we will find that a lot of people have no idea what that means. I expect a lot of people have never seen an actual script before.

Robert July 27, 2016 um 9:12 am

In particular, I think a lot of kids are going to be bummed by it. I’m tempted to go to one of the local midnight launch Potterfests just to watch the faces of people as they crack open the book for the first time.

I enjoyed the original books and went to the launch parties like many others but I’m just not very interested in this thing, in this format. I’ll eventually get it from the library or buy one of the hundreds of used copies that will flood Half-Price Books by September.

Nate Hoffelder July 27, 2016 um 11:33 am

I’m going to be interested in the novelized form, but this thing?

I’ll wait until i can get it from the library.

Kit July 27, 2016 um 12:52 pm

I think you’re underestimating the number of crazy Potter fans that are out there. I think they’ll be thrilled to be back in Harry’s world, no matter what form it takes. For kids and young adults raised on texting a script will probably seem very familiar, and clear about what’s going on. And I can imagine the younger ones (preteen, etc.) getting together with their friends, dressing up in their Harry Potter robes, and acting the whole thing out. My niece is about that age and she and her friends simply love to perform; they would think a script is awesome. They’re also addicted to making videos; I think there may end up being a whole section of youtube dedicated to kids acting out the Harry Potter script.

poiboy July 27, 2016 um 10:32 pm

if the book is formatted like a script for the stage.. then probably only hardcore HP folk will love it.

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