Saturday, July 28, 2007

Where's Harry?

Well, a week ago right now, I was scrunched down in a train seat, avidly reading the final installment of the Harry Potter series. Though you're not going to find any spoilers here and you've probably finished the book by this time yourself, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is the best of the bunch. A real page turner--all 780-some pages, is the first in the series that can really be called a suspense novel. J.K. Rowling has really matured as a writer over the 7 books, and it's fun and delightful to see.

But the real suspense for me was whether or not I was going to get my copy at all. I was one of the more than 1-million people who pre-ordered from, as of noon on July 21, it hadn't arrived. A quick check online showed that it had been delivered to my apartment building, but the doorman hadn't seen it, and other people in the building had gotten theirs. Hmmm.

Well I didn't want to miss my train, and fortunately, I knew that there was a Borders right by Penn Station. I joined the line of people all buying the book--at a nice 40% discount, but not the $17.99 that I had paid to Amazon.

As has happened around these things, the adults in the checkout line started talking. Three others hadn't received their copies from Amazon either and had raced out to mollify eager kids.

On the train, half the adults were carrying the book, and four of them around my seat had also just purchased at Borders because their Amazon copies hadn't arrived.

Well, to Amazon's credit, they refunded the purchase price of the book. It finally did show up on Monday, and it will be donated to a library since they didn't want it back.

Now, a rational adult thinks, "Well, delivering 1.4 million books in a very small window is bound to be fraught with problems." And that's a pretty adult thing to think. But what about kids who are counting on something being there for them? A refund isn't going to make good on that.

- C. Byrne