‘Potter’ book flies off shelves, setting records

From the Associated Press

It is the richest going-away party in history.

“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” the seventh and final volume of J.K. Rowling’s all-conquering fantasy series, sold a mountainous 8.3 million copies in its first 24 hours on sale in the United States, according to Scholastic Inc.

No other book, not even any of the six previous Potters, has disappeared so quickly. “Deathly Hallows” averaged more than 300,000 copies in sales an hour -- more than 5,000 a minute.

The $34.99 book, even allowing for discounts, generated far more revenue than the opening weekend of the latest Potter movie, “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” which came out July 10.

“The excitement, anticipation and just plain hysteria that came over the entire country this weekend was a bit like the Beatles’ first visit to the U.S.,” Scholastic President Lisa Holton said in a statement Sunday.

“This weekend kids and adults alike are sitting on buses, in the park, on airplanes and in restaurants reading ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.’ The conversations the readers have been waiting to have for 10 years have just begun.”


The numbers are astonishing but not shocking.

“Deathly Hallows,” expected to break records, was released Saturday with a first printing of 12 million copies in the U.S. alone, although Scholastic spokeswoman Kyle Good acknowledged that some stores already were out of copies.

“Our distribution strategy was clearly right on target in order to sell 8.3 million copies in 24 hours,” she told the Associated Press. “We are working with retailers to move additional copies to the places they are needed most in the coming days and weeks.”

The book’s British publisher, Bloomsbury, expects to announce sales figures today.

Earlier Sunday, Borders Group Inc. reported that “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” sold 1.2 million copies worldwide in its first day, the biggest single-day number ever for the superstore chain.

Borders said the previous Potter, “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” sold 850,000 copies on its first day of release in 2005.

Both and Barnes & Noble Inc. announced that pre-orders exceeded 1 million.

Seven of the top sellers on Amazon were Potter-related Sunday, including the audio CD of “Deathly Hallows” and a box set of all seven Potters coming out in September.

“Deathly Hallows” was so popular that it took away business from “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” the fifth Potter movie, because fans were too busy, Hollywood studio Warner Bros. said.

“They wanted to get that book Saturday, lock themselves in the house and read it, because they didn’t want their other friends by Monday telling them who made it and who didn’t,” said Dan Fellman, Warner Bros.’ head of distribution.