Incentivized Potter-ing: Amazon Runs Harry Potter Pre-Order Contest

The final installment in the Harry Potter series is near (much to the dismay of its profiting publisher), and the release date for lucky No. 7 is fast approaching. Meanwhile, Amazon.com is marking the occasion by running a contest called “The Harry-est Town in America.” Whichever town pre-orders the most copies of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows will receive a $5,000 Amazon gift certificate, to be directed by the winner to a local charity. The numbers are calculated on a per capita basis using the latest census, and a city must have a population of more than 5,000 to qualify.

So far, Amazon has kept a running list of the Top 100 Potter-loving towns. As of last week, Northern Virginia was leading the pack, with Falls Church, Fairfax, and Vienna nabbing the first, third, and fourth spots. Also in heavy rotation is Washington state, with Gig Harbor, Issaquah, Snohomish, and Woodinville snatching slots in the Top 10. The New York metropolitan region is conspicuously absent (maybe we’re all still slogging through the latest Pynchon?), although the suburbs represent with Great Neck, Scarsdale, and Bronxville.

What city will be the Potter-est of them all? Guess we’ll have to wait until the release deadline of 11:59 PM PDT on July 15, 2007, to find out — although by then, everyone will be busy reading the actual book.

(Hat tip: Kevin)


kentavos

What an odd contest. It's not like you really have to incent people to buy Harry Potter, especially the last one in the series.

And who is the "winner" if the entire city wins? How do you decide on a charity?

I really don't see the point. Why not donate books to the local schools or something that is relevant?

On another note, why is Virginia so prominent in the contest? Widespread adoption of internet shopping? Poor local bookstores?

chappy8

I live in the Virgina area (Arlington) and can tell you why. This contest should be called 'gift certificate to city with high children, and parental education/wealth per capita' Vienna, Fairfax and Falls Church are the Virginia suburbs of Washington, DC where people with kids move.

ftelegdy

I wonder if Amazon is doing this because their orders are not meeting expectations. I imagine there's a large number of Potter fans who will be spending July 15/16 at local bookstores that will be having a Potter-themed evening. I'm 31 years old and I know that's how I'll be spending that night.

The bookstore that I'm going to for my book is actually getting the street they're on to close down and "become" Diagon Alley. The local bank will "become" Gringotts. The clothing store will "become" Madam Malkin's. The bookstore will "become" Flourish & Blotts. And on and on and on.

Otherwise, why would Amazon need an incentive for an obvious bestseller?

furiousball

Right now, I'm putting together my paper work for my "Send furiousBall to the Bahamas" charity and encouraging my neighbors to order. For those of you that doubt the need, do you know that I have never been the Bahamas? Never I tell you.

alaric9

I agree with chappy8, they need to normalize their selection areas to control for total population, income, and other factors. It would make for a more interesting contest.

kah

It is scary how many of these towns/cities I have been in or have friends who live in, and I'm not even an especially networked person. This list is very intriguing.

chrisbryan

It's not the end of the series. Rowling could still make a prequel.

prosa

Other than being mostly affluent, the other common theme I sense is that many of the top 100 communities are outer-ring, edge suburbs. Whether that's significant or mere coincidence, I won't try to guess.

egretman

On the plus side, Amazon's list of the "Harry-est towns in America" will give christians a clearer idea about where they need to do more work.

funkyj

Woodside CA is on the list but Santa Cruz CA is not.

I suspect this is because Woodside does not have a downtown with a big independent book store.

In Santa Cruz we have "Bookshop Santa Cruz" which holds a midnight release party for fans. Consequently, while we are big fans of Harry Potter we are mostly pre-ordering our books through the local book store rather than Amazon.

Yay for local businesses!

mikeKP

A few years ago some simple data confusion led Virginia's state alcohol department to report that the city of Falls Church was number one in the state in per capital alcohol consumption (4.6 gallons per person!).

As I explain in a post at www.knowledgeproblem.com, I wonder if Falls Church's top ranking on Amazon's per-capita-orders-for-Harry-Potter list is the product of the same magical math mistake. (Scroll down to the second or third post today, May 8.)

mikeKP

A few years ago some simple data confusion led Virginia's state alcohol department to report that the city of Falls Church was number one in the state in per capital alcohol consumption (4.6 gallons per person!).

As I explain in a post at www.knowledgeproblem.com , I wonder if Falls Church's top ranking on Amazon's per-capita-orders-for-Harry-Potter list is the product of the same magical math mistake. (Scroll down to the second or third post today, May 8.)

ftelegdy

Amazon.com reaches 1 million pre-orders! Their response? Slash prices!

Maybe an economist could step in and tell me why it's a good idea to slash prices when a company has just reached a sales milestone faster than it has previously. Seems to me they would want to keep prices steady, no?

kentavos

What an odd contest. It's not like you really have to incent people to buy Harry Potter, especially the last one in the series.

And who is the "winner" if the entire city wins? How do you decide on a charity?

I really don't see the point. Why not donate books to the local schools or something that is relevant?

On another note, why is Virginia so prominent in the contest? Widespread adoption of internet shopping? Poor local bookstores?

chappy8

I live in the Virgina area (Arlington) and can tell you why. This contest should be called 'gift certificate to city with high children, and parental education/wealth per capita' Vienna, Fairfax and Falls Church are the Virginia suburbs of Washington, DC where people with kids move.

ftelegdy

I wonder if Amazon is doing this because their orders are not meeting expectations. I imagine there's a large number of Potter fans who will be spending July 15/16 at local bookstores that will be having a Potter-themed evening. I'm 31 years old and I know that's how I'll be spending that night.

The bookstore that I'm going to for my book is actually getting the street they're on to close down and "become" Diagon Alley. The local bank will "become" Gringotts. The clothing store will "become" Madam Malkin's. The bookstore will "become" Flourish & Blotts. And on and on and on.

Otherwise, why would Amazon need an incentive for an obvious bestseller?

furiousball

Right now, I'm putting together my paper work for my "Send furiousBall to the Bahamas" charity and encouraging my neighbors to order. For those of you that doubt the need, do you know that I have never been the Bahamas? Never I tell you.

alaric9

I agree with chappy8, they need to normalize their selection areas to control for total population, income, and other factors. It would make for a more interesting contest.

kah

It is scary how many of these towns/cities I have been in or have friends who live in, and I'm not even an especially networked person. This list is very intriguing.

chrisbryan

It's not the end of the series. Rowling could still make a prequel.