Harry Potter publisher Bloomsbury has cancelled an order by supermarket chain Asda over the supply of 500,000 copies of the latest book in the magical series.

Bloomsbury insists that it has taken the decision to withhold the copies of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows because Asda owes the company money.

However the supermarket has accused the publisher of "blatant profiteering" and claims that copies of the final Harry Potter instalment are not being supplied because it wants to sell them at a low price.

Unless it resolves the row, it stands to lose out on sales of the long-awaited seventh book from author Jk Rowling – due for release on Saturday.

Asda had said that its customers would be able to pre-order her latest wizarding tale for the price of £8.87.

But the supermarket has accused Bloomsbury of "attempting to hold children to ransom" by setting the recommended retail price of the book at £17.99.

Asda claims that the basic price of books in the Harry Potter series has increased by over 30 per cent since the first novel about the young wizard was published ten years ago.

"It seems like Bloomsbury need to do a quid-ditch as they have sent their prices up north on the Hogwarts Express," said Asda's director of general merchandise, Peter Pritchard.

But Bloomsbury has refuted the retailer's claim that the row over the latest Potter book centres on its price.

Speaking on Radio Five Live Bloomsbury's marketing director Minna Fry said the publisher would not be delivering the novel to Asda because the retailer had not settled its bills with the company.

"It has been going on a while, going on for weeks actually, and we always said we wouldn't provide them with the books until that was sorted out," she said.

17/07/2007 10:46:06