Amazon.com is the mystery buyer of an auctioned book by Harry Potter author JK Rowling…
“A handwritten book of fairy tales by the creator of the “Harry Potter” series fetched nearly $4 million from Seattle-based Amazon.com in a Sotheby’s auction Thursday…”
New York -- Amazon.com Inc., the Web retailer known for selling books, said it had paid about $4 million to buy a handwritten, illustrated book of wizardry by “Harry Potter” author J. K. Rowling.
“J. K. Rowling created seven handwritten, leather-bound copies of a book called “The Tales of Beedle the Bard.”
“The six other copies of the book were given to Rowling’s friends to thank them for their support while she was writing the Harry Potter series, and the last was sold to Amazon.com for about $4 million,” the Amazon release said.”
Sotheby’s on Thursday held an auction for the book called “The Tales of Beedle the Bard,” a book of five wizardry fairy tales mentioned in “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” is one of seven copies Rowling handmade after finishing the Potter series, which was mentioned in the last Potter book as having been left to Harry’s friend Hermione by their teacher, Albus Dumbledore.
“Potter books, have been sold nearly 400 million copies and been translated into 64 languages.”
Sotheby's presale top estimate was 50,000 pounds. The money will go to the Children’s Voice, a charity co-founded by Rowling and Emma Nicholson, a member of the U.K. House of Lords.
“Even before establishing her charity, J. K. Rowling had done the world a rare and immeasurably valuable service -- enlarging forever our concept of the way books can touch people -- and in particular children -- in modern times,” said Amazon.com Founder Jeff Bezos in a release. “When we deliver Harry Potter, kids are camped out at the post box.”
London dealer Hazlitt, Gooden and Fox had the winning bid of 1.95 million pounds ($3.98 million) on behalf of Amazon.com.
The book bought by Amazon is one of seven handmade copies, extensively illustrated by Rowling and bound in brown Moroccan leather, decorated in all its silver -- and moonstones-covered beauty, was actually bought at auction.
Amazon spokesman Craig Berman said Amazon wants to take the book on tour to libraries and schools, though the company does not yet have detailed plans. Amazon representatives did not disclose where the book is being stored.
Sotheby’s took no commission on the sale to the world’s largest online bookstore. The price exceeded the top estimate 39 times as about six bidders were winnowed down to two.
Sotheby’s book sale included half a dozen other Rowling items, such as drawings and first editions of Potter books. At least three of the lots did not sell.
“’The Tales of Beedle the Bard’ is really a distillation of the themes found in the ‘Harry Potter’ books, and writing it has been the most wonderful way to say goodbye to a world I have loved and lived in for 17 years,” Rowling said in a prepared statement.
Rowling, 42, is the only billionaire author on Forbes magazine’s 2007 list of the U.K.’s wealthiest people. More than 350 million Potter books are in print worldwide, and Potter films have grossed $3.5 billion, Forbes said in March.
Sotheby’s, the world’s second-largest auction house, has its main salerooms in New York. The price for the leather-bound fairy tale, illustrated by Rowling with ink drawings, was a record for the author, for a children’s book and for any modern literary manuscript, Sotheby’s said. Manuscripts by living authors are rare in the auction room.
Christie’s International will offer a set of four signed first editions of Potter novels at a top estimate of 50,000 pounds in London on Dec. 19. The record for a single Potter novel was set in May, when “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” sold for 27,370 pounds at London’s Bloomsbury Auctions.
Amazon spokeswoman Patty Smith said “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” is the company’s all-time best-selling book. Smith did not disclose final sales figures, but she said Amazon received 2.2 million preorders, smashing the previous preorder record of 1.5 million set for the series’ sixth book, “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.”
“The Amazon Web sites worldwide have sold more than 12 million of the ‘Harry Potter’ books,” she said.
Amazon.com has posted several pictures of the book -- which it handles with white gloves -- and a review of one tale called “The Wizard and the Hopping Pot” on the Web site http://www.amazon.com/beedlebard. The company plans to post reviews of all five tales.
At £2 million, the book seems a bit on the pricey side even compared to a Wii but the auction was for charity and the price must be a drop in the proverbial compared to how much Amazon rakes in from Rowling’s HP franchise.
So, although crazy amounts of money have been thrown around in the eBusiness industry, and we have never been afraid to make fun of bad decisions, it is hard to call this one.
At the same time, Amazon wants its PR – that is the only reason we can think of that might be behind the purchase of this book.