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CALGARY, Canada -- All 300 Mac's convenience stores in the three prairie provinces and British Columbia have been denied permission to sell the newest and last installment of the Harry Potter series when "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" goes on sale July 21.
"We're obviously disappointed," Mac's Calgary-based category manager Dave Clark told the Globe and Mail. The chain's western-Canadian stores had sold the last three titles in the Harry Potter series and hoped to do so with the latest, but were shut out by Raincoast Books, the Vancouver-based publisher and distributor of the Harry Potter series in Canada. "It was purely their decision," Clark said.
Raincoast would not confirm that Mac's western-Canadian stores won't be taking delivery of the book, but Jamie Broadhurst, vice president of marketing, acknowledged that some retail outlets previously allowed to sell Potter titles won't be doing so this time.
"We have reviewed the security procedures with all our customers, big and small," said Broadhurst, "and if we have concerns that the security of the novel can't be guaranteed, then we've made the tough decision not to ship for the on-sale date. Security is our absolute, paramount concern."
Raincoast, along with all the other English-language Potter publishers in the world, has adopted a strict policy of secrecy in recent years prior to the publication of each novel in the series, started by British author J. K. Rowling in 1997, the Globe and Mail reported.
In 2005, just before the July 16 publication of the sixth Potter novel, Raincoast got a restraining order from B.C.'s Supreme Court prohibiting "anyone who [had] directly or indirectly received [an advance] copy" of that novel from "copying or disclosing," selling or "exhibiting in public" any of its contents before its on-sale date.
The publisher claimed it was forced to get the order after at least three grocery stores, including a Mac's in Calgary, inadvertently offered the novel for sale before July 16. As a result, Raincoast yanked whatever copies were still in these stores and only resumed shipments to them after official publication, according to the newspaper.
Raincoast's Broadhurst said security this time "is even tighter than before." Previously, some stores would receive their Potter orders nine or 10 days in advance of publication. For "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," however, "we're working on a 'just-in-time' delivery system," he said. This means most outlets won't be getting their books until eight or 12 hours before they're permitted to be sold.
Mac's Clark said he understood Raincoast's reluctance to service the c-stores. Previously, "getting us books four or five days before, that was asking for trouble. Someone's not going to get the message or make a mistake," as indeed happened in 2005, he said.
This time, however, he thinks Raincoast is working on too tight a leash, even if it means "the less number of points of distribution that they send it to, the better control they have over it," Clark told the Globe and Mail.
Mac's eastern-Canadian stores have never carried Potter titles.