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‘Harry Potter’: Bribing a Bookseller Is Harder Than We Thought

Courtesy of Scholastic (book), iStockphoto (money)

So did you get your copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows yet? Gawker has one! Michiko has one! Random people in Baltimore have copies! Why not us? We sent two intrepid reporters out to some of the city's best bookstores this morning with strict orders to talk their way into purchasing a copy, and damn the consequences. We even gave them a bribery budget of $100 per bookshop! The hard-nosed and handsome lawyers of Scholastic will be pleased to know that all six bookshops stood firm. The reporters, sadly, have been hexed.

Barnes & Noble, Union Square
Tactic: Cornering janitor in the elevator.
Response: Laughed nervously and escaped as quickly as possible. Told us to come back tomorrow.

Books of Wonder, 18th Street
Tactic: Asking nicely, flashing $100.
Response: “Umm … we don’t do that. Do you want to preorder?” Made us feel guilty for bribing in front of children.

Shakespeare & Company, 23rd Street
Tactic: “Will you be selling the new Harry Potter book? Have you gotten your shipment?”
Response: They might not even be selling it and definitely haven’t gotten their shipment yet. Most of the store's customers don’t exactly have lightning bolts painted on their foreheads.

Three Lives Book Company, 10th Street
Tactic: To the point.
Response: Employees deflected our demand and begged innocent of even having the tome, claiming it wouldn’t arrive until Saturday. “We’ll put you on our waiting list,” one offered. We declined.

Biography Bookshop, Bleecker Street
Tactic: Distressed damsel.
Response: The manager said she wouldn’t even let her own employees take a premature peek — Rowling’s verse was safely sealed in its fortress of packing tape and cardboard. Bribery did little to assuage the fear of a lawsuit. “We signed an affidavit,” she explained.

Partners & Crime, Greenwich Avenue
Tactic: Beggar with a bribe.
Response: “Who are you working for?” the frazzled employees of this subterranean haunt asked almost as soon we launched into our supplication. Morning had already brought two would-be advance Potter readers, each of whom unsuccessfully offered a hundred bucks for the book. Without the budget to outbid them, we left defeated.
—Hillary Reinsberg and Haven Thompson