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Notes from the Harry Potter circus.

So after band rehearsal, Jeroen, Danny, Sidsel and I went to Scholtens Wristers at half past 12 to check out the queues at the Harry Potter launch. When we arrived, there was a sizable throng already, reaching to the bend in the road towards the Vismarkt. Unlike two years ago, there was no scaffolding on the buildings opposite the store, so we didn't get a good vantage point to view the proceedings from. But then, there wasn't that much to see.

The bookstore industry has had a very bad time lately. Scholtens Wristers Groningen, which is part of a chain, even had to fire its general manager, who is a minor celebrity. He presented a book review show on television a few years ago and the association of his name and face with the store would, I thought, have been a bit valuable, but he was still out on his ear as of May this year. So the celebrations were a bit more modest this time around. No jugglers or other performers to keep the queue amused. But there was candy, and that's always good.
At Jeroen's instigation, we joined the queue. Jeroen wanted a copy for himself and one for his girlfriend, and Sidsel wanted one as well. The mood inside the queue was cheerful. Lots of friendly chatter, and no one took us to task for our Dumbledore jokes (it is widely assumed that the bearded one is the one who snuffs it in this book - note that this is not a spoiler, because at this point, we only have other people's speculation to go by).
Compared to the previous launch, I think there were more children in the queue. Kids here have at best a rudimentary grasp of simple English words by age 11, and I'd think it would take them a while before they'd be ready to tackle a 600+ page book with long sentences, but some kids are willing to go the extra mile for Harry Potter. There weren't that many, but they were there.
After the store opened and the throngs started moving forward, two girls on bicycles took the trouble of tipping the people in the queue that a bookstore in the Korreweg was also open, and getting no business at all! Publicity and location make all the difference. I felt a bit sorry for the people at that other store, and I also thought it was very kind of those girls to tell us, but by that time we were close to the entrance and it wasn't worth the extra bother of going to that other store. They should have gone talk to the people at the the back of the queue.
The actual launch was a bit of an anticlimax. There was more candy in the store, but the whole event was just too efficient. We were shepherded through a specially built corridor, and with all the cash registers manned, we were outside again within 2 minutes. I'd have made more of an event of it. Maybe I'd have built smaller stacks of the books to be added to during the sale, to make the people still waiting a little bit nervous. Not that people weren't thrilled to have the book anyway.


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