Here Comes Harry!

Tomorrow morning — at 12:01 AM, to be preciseHarry Potter and the Deathly Hallows will go on sale. While coverage of the event has been crammed with reports of lawsuits over early shipments, outrage over Internet spoilers, and protests over potential Sabbath desecration, there’s also been plenty of Freakonomic-ish news in the Potter realm. Here’s a summary:

A prediction market lists the hero’s survival at 90% as of 12:37 AM, EDT.

Reuters profiles Mugglenet, a virtual Potter-ized world created by then-12-year-old fan Emerson Spartz that now receives up to 40 million visitors a month, and has made its founder a minor celebrity.

Amazon has announced that Falls Church, VA is the winner of its “Harry-est Town in America” contest (which we’ve followed with interest). The Potter-loving town has designated its $5,000 Amazon gift prize to go to the Mary Riley Styles Public Library Foundation Trust (perhaps to the dismay of publishers?).

Salon chimes in with a report on the genesis of “wizard rock,” made up of youth bands that promote their music through social networking sites.

On the economics side, the Financial Times notes that, while this weekend’s revenues from Deathly Hallows will surpass Hollywood’s box office earnings for the same period, booksellers are predicting little to no actual profits due to deep discounts on the hardbacks. Though with fans camping out at stores and big chains like Barnes & Noble expected to move more than 2 million copies in the next few weeks, as B&N CEO Steve Riggio says, “that’s a good investment in the future.”

Lastly, while the book’s U.S. publisher, Scholastic Corp. is shipping a record 12 million copies tonight, things may not stay so rosy in the company’s future; Bloomberg.com reports that it faces “an exodus of investors as the series ends,” with the stock already falling 30 cents as of this morning. Meanwhile, The Street‘s James Altucher advises against buying Scholastic in his list of Potter franchise stock picks.


Princess Leia

We are ready for the big event here at our house: We've had the Harry poster from the Times in the front window the past few days and my daughter will wear her Gryffendor robe tonight... assertive feminine muggles like us intend to have our copy at 12:01am, or at least be at the store for the taking.

Soooo sad to be missing "Harry and the Potters" play at Harvard Square!

GO HARRY!!!

frankenduf

I don't get it- the Sabbath is Sunday

discordian

SPOILER ALERT!

Harry actually ends up immanetizing the escahton much like the Scarlett Witch tied to do in the Marvel "House of M" series.

troof!

dberch

The end of the line and STILL NO PROFIT?

See "The Future for Harry Potter"
http://danielberch.wordpress.com/2007/07/20/the-future-for-harry-potter/

bent

"A prediction market lists the hero's survival at 90% as of 12:37 AM, EDT."

This just demonstrates the uselessness of prediction markets with play money.

the_admiral

Frankenduf-

The Jewish Sabbath, known as Shabbat, is Saturday.

G.E. Smith

I was hoping this was an explanation of the economics of the Harry Potter universe... The magic economy seems very unsustainable to me. Here is what I said at my blog:

My wife was explaining key plot elements to me, and I commented that all of the magical bureaucracies sound a lot like the New Deal alphabet-soup programs. She then revealed that a large number of people in the Harry Potter world work for the Ministry of Magic — i.e. the government.

Nevertheless, Austrians would be happy to know the Harry Potter world operates on a gold standard — yet the banking system seems very ill-conceived by Ms. Rowling (from what my wife said). Goblins apparently mine gold, but it is unclear how that gold makes it into circulation — do the goblins contribute it to the monetary system out of altruism?

Furthermore, no one seems to produce much of anything. Even those few wizards who don't work for the Ministry of Magic seem to be in retail, not manufacturing. Where do they get the goods to sell? More importantly, where does the money come from for the Ministry of Magic to pay its (government) workers? Are the small productive and retail sectors taxed into oblivion?

Read more...

the_admiral

G.E. Smith- thanks for the new look at things.

The retail system is of the old-fashioned model where often the same people manufacture and sell the goods. For example, Fred and George Weasley run a joke store where they manufacture the magical pranks they sell (though they do hire an employee to help them sell the goods). Ollivander also appears to both build and sell his own wands.

Don't forget that there is also a cheap and reliable source of manual labor- house-elves. (The moral questions of a race designed for slavery are, of course, more complicated than the economic ones). House-elves produce the food at Hogwarts, act as servants to wealthy families, and, for all we know, could be located in poorly ventilated sweatshops producing broomsticks, cauldrons, and Chocolate Frogs.

The manufacturing in Harry Potter is at least partly made up of goblins, who, it is revealed in book seven, produce metalwork (swords, jewelery, etc). They have an oddly Marxist view of economics- they believe that the beings that make the goods own them, not the wizards that pay for them. (Bill Weasley explains to Harry that they think that one wizard selling goblin-made goods to another wizard, without additional payment to the original manufacturer, is theft).

Don't forget, also, that manufacturing is an awful lot easier when you can Transfigure things out of thin air (except for food, which, it is revealed, is one of the five principal exceptions to Gamp's Law of Elemental Transfiguration).

These blog posts touch on some similar themes:

http://stonedeadparrot.blogspot.com/2007/07/potter-and-economics.html
http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/megan_mcardle/2007/07/harry_potter_the_economics.html

Read more...

Princess Leia

We are ready for the big event here at our house: We've had the Harry poster from the Times in the front window the past few days and my daughter will wear her Gryffendor robe tonight... assertive feminine muggles like us intend to have our copy at 12:01am, or at least be at the store for the taking.

Soooo sad to be missing "Harry and the Potters" play at Harvard Square!

GO HARRY!!!

frankenduf

I don't get it- the Sabbath is Sunday

discordian

SPOILER ALERT!

Harry actually ends up immanetizing the escahton much like the Scarlett Witch tied to do in the Marvel "House of M" series.

troof!

dberch

The end of the line and STILL NO PROFIT?

See "The Future for Harry Potter"
http://danielberch.wordpress.com/2007/07/20/the-future-for-harry-potter/

bent

"A prediction market lists the hero's survival at 90% as of 12:37 AM, EDT."

This just demonstrates the uselessness of prediction markets with play money.

the_admiral

Frankenduf-

The Jewish Sabbath, known as Shabbat, is Saturday.

G.E. Smith

I was hoping this was an explanation of the economics of the Harry Potter universe... The magic economy seems very unsustainable to me. Here is what I said at my blog:

My wife was explaining key plot elements to me, and I commented that all of the magical bureaucracies sound a lot like the New Deal alphabet-soup programs. She then revealed that a large number of people in the Harry Potter world work for the Ministry of Magic - i.e. the government.

Nevertheless, Austrians would be happy to know the Harry Potter world operates on a gold standard - yet the banking system seems very ill-conceived by Ms. Rowling (from what my wife said). Goblins apparently mine gold, but it is unclear how that gold makes it into circulation - do the goblins contribute it to the monetary system out of altruism?

Furthermore, no one seems to produce much of anything. Even those few wizards who don't work for the Ministry of Magic seem to be in retail, not manufacturing. Where do they get the goods to sell? More importantly, where does the money come from for the Ministry of Magic to pay its (government) workers? Are the small productive and retail sectors taxed into oblivion?

Read more...

the_admiral

G.E. Smith- thanks for the new look at things.

The retail system is of the old-fashioned model where often the same people manufacture and sell the goods. For example, Fred and George Weasley run a joke store where they manufacture the magical pranks they sell (though they do hire an employee to help them sell the goods). Ollivander also appears to both build and sell his own wands.

Don't forget that there is also a cheap and reliable source of manual labor- house-elves. (The moral questions of a race designed for slavery are, of course, more complicated than the economic ones). House-elves produce the food at Hogwarts, act as servants to wealthy families, and, for all we know, could be located in poorly ventilated sweatshops producing broomsticks, cauldrons, and Chocolate Frogs.

The manufacturing in Harry Potter is at least partly made up of goblins, who, it is revealed in book seven, produce metalwork (swords, jewelery, etc). They have an oddly Marxist view of economics- they believe that the beings that make the goods own them, not the wizards that pay for them. (Bill Weasley explains to Harry that they think that one wizard selling goblin-made goods to another wizard, without additional payment to the original manufacturer, is theft).

Don't forget, also, that manufacturing is an awful lot easier when you can Transfigure things out of thin air (except for food, which, it is revealed, is one of the five principal exceptions to Gamp's Law of Elemental Transfiguration).

These blog posts touch on some similar themes:

http://stonedeadparrot.blogspot.com/2007/07/potter-and-economics.html
http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/megan_mcardle/2007/07/harry_potter_the_economics.html

Read more...