Monday, July 16, 2007

Things I'll Miss About New Zealand, Part 7

When you only have 4 million people in the whole country to compete with, you can get tickets to virtually anything. And for non-exorbitant prices, too!

Our U2 tickets, which certainly would have cost a mint in Ottawa, we obtained via (NZ's Ebay) for a price only marginally off the actual, printed ticket price. We walked into the Rolling Stones the night of, and were "scalped" for a whopping $20 more than the ticket price. I attribute this savings to the limited number of people my dollar competes with, and I am wholly grateful for it.

But do the benefits of a smaller country end at tickets? Nay, say I! During an aforementioned Nerd Convention, I got to meet several of my favourite science fiction stars, and even had time to chat awhile... there was no need to hurry, as the line was minimal. Even better, there was NO LINE AT ALL for meeting the incredible Mr. Brian K. Vaughn (author of Y: The Last Man, writer for later episodes of Lost, and partner of the godlike Joss Whedon in the highly-anticipated Buffy Season 8 comics). Brian was especially cool, and Dave and I talked with him a good while about life, what kinds of things each of us were up to, where we were from, Brian's Canadian wife, etc.

Anyhow, my point here is, would Dave and I ever have had a chance to have a substantial discussion with someone this high-profile at a public event in Canada? Heavens no! Instead, it would have resembled more, "Uh, hi! You're Brian K. Vaughn, right? I love 'Y', it's so, like, smart! Will you sign my book?" {hiss to person behind me, "Quit shoving, fartknocker!"} "Thanks! Uhm, bye!" {get pushed aside by fartknocker, try not to get trampled as I make my exit.}

The lower demand-pool also manifests itself for consumer goods. Besides event tickets, I mean. Wanna see a movie on opening night? No problem. (Note, you may in fact be stuck next to vile minions of Satan who yap, fart, and seat-kick through the whole thing... so maybe waiting for an emptier theatre is still better.)

But all this theory will be put to the test this week, when I camp out in a nearby coffeeshop and observe a specific social phenomena... the release of the final Harry Potter book.

The Experiment: Hypothesis Phase

In Canada, I envision people lining up, dozens or even hundreds deep, to get this book. I see a bright, sunny day where the lines spill out of the stores. Parents are getting it to occupy their kids at the sordid halfway point of a stressful school-free summer. Teens are waiting in line themselves, perhaps in groups, happy to have somewhere to be that's not school, or someones' basement. The remaining adults will stand in line, alone, and when asked they will stammer something about the book being for some (potentially make-believe) relative. The latter are possibly the group most often caught peeking in the book whilst in line.

But I'm not in Canada, and I'm sorry to miss the event. Instead, I seek to gain some insight about how Wellington will receive the book. The possibilities go two ways:

1) Much as described for Canada, but with blue-lipped line-members standing out in the cold and the rain.

2) Same as it ever was... if the bookstore is at all busier than usual, the degree would be invisible to the naked eye. If this happened, it was likely caused by the following:
  • Kids aren't on school break, and will not have one for another 9 weeks. Therefore, this decreases the need (and thus demand) for giving them something to do.
  • The store I will visit will be a downtown Wellington store. Families tend not to live in downtown Wellington; they would likely visit a larger, suburban store nearer to them.
  • People who live in downtown Wellington likely walk by these bookstores on the way to work every single day. Why wait now, or even make a special trip, when you can pick it up with considerably less difficulty in a few days?
  • Downtown Wellington has a mere 200,000 people living in it, the majority presumably being young professionals. Only a fraction of these will have any desire to ever read the books, and even fewer will be seeking the book that day.
Thus, I have a theory that New Zealand's sparse population (and the benefits thereof), paired with the demographics of downtown Wellington, will reduce the Harry Potter phenom to zilch.

My plan of action is to sit at my local coffeeshop and watch the bookstore. If I am wrong, I will mock the poor sods standing out in the rain.

If I am right, I will stare longingly at the non-crowded storefront and try (and probably fail) to resist the temptation to just go and buy the damned thing.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

well, you're right Karla,
the new HP book is on all the news and there's even a scandal that it has been leaked on the internet!
But I still can imagine you buying it to read on your way home to Canada!
Love from Mum