A new addition to the Harry Potter franchise will be a major event not only for readers, but also for its Canadian publisher, Scholastic Canada, which is calling the book the biggest in its 59-year history.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts One and Two, the script book for a West End stage play adapted by Jack Thorne from a new Potter story by J.K. Rowling, is being advertised as the eighth instalment of the titular wizard’s story. The play, currently in previews, opens at London’s Palace Theatre on July 30, with the book released the following day.
In North America, the book is being promoted collaboratively between Scholastic’s Canadian and U.S. divisions‚ with an initial printing of 4.5 million copies between both countries. “It’s been extremely beneficial to work alongside our U.S. team‚ many of whom have worked on every [Harry Potter] book,” says Denise Anderson‚ Scholastic’s director of trade marketing and publicity.
Scholastic Canada’s marketing campaign includes transit ads over five weeks in Calgary, Ottawa, Toronto, and Vancouver, as well as hundreds of events taking place in libraries and bookstores across the country, including one hosted by Winnipeg’s McNally Robinson, expected to draw more than 10,000 fans.
Despite the Scholastic team’s experience with the Harry Potter brand – it has maintained U.S. rights to the series from the beginning, while Canadian rights were held by Raincoast Books from 1999–2010 in conjunction with Rowling’s U.K. publisher‚ Bloomsbury‚ which later published and distributed the titles in Canada through PRH Canada – Anderson says new marketing approaches are also required. When the original run of Harry Potter books‚ the last of which was published nine years ago, were released, “social media didn’t exist in the same way,” she says. “That has played a huge part in promotion because not only do we have Scholastic’s platforms, but other resources such as Pottermore that also share information about the book. It represents millions of impressions.”
A second forthcoming Harry Potter title‚ the screenplay Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them‚ will follow‚ released simultaneously with the Warner Bros. feature film on Nov. 18.