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Tue, Jul 24, 2007 - Page 10 News List

Last `Harry Potter' sets US sales record

SMASH HIT The series has sold more than 325 million copies worldwide, making it the biggest children's book series ever, with the first six all on the UK's all-time bestseller list


Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the seventh and final book in J.K. Rowling's best-selling children's series, sold a record 8.3 million copies in the US on its first day, publisher Scholastic Corp said.

Customers at Borders Group Inc, the second-largest US bookseller, bought 1.2 million of the books, the highest single-day sales of any title in the company's history. In the UK, retailer ASDA said its shelves were almost cleared out.

"The final Harry Potter book will undoubtedly be the biggest seller of the series so far; that's a given," said Simon Davies, an analyst at ABN Amro in London. He has a "hold" rating on Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, the series' UK publisher.

First-day sales surpassed the US record of 6.9 million copies set by Rowling's sixth book in the series in 2005, New York-based Scholastic said in a statement yesterday. The company this year released 12 million copies at 12:01am last Saturday, the biggest initial printing for a book about the boy wizard. Bloomsbury declined to say how many millions of copies it had ordered for its first printing.

The 1.2 million copies of Deathly Hallows sold at Borders on the first day exceeded the 850,000 copies sold of book six, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, in 2005, the Ann Arbor, Michigan-based company said in a statement yesterday. New York-based Barnes and Noble Inc, the world's largest book retailer, were also planning to release Harry Potter sales figures later yesterday.

"We've never had a book like this before," Borders chief executive George Jones said in an interview. "It drives a whole lot of traffic into our stores."

ASDA, the supermarket chain owned by Wal-Mart Stores Inc, sold almost all of its 500,000 copies this weekend, breaking store records, the company said.

"We've never seen anything like it," spokesman Ed Watson said in a telephone interview in London. "This is our most successful book launch ever."

The chain sold 97 percent of its inventory since it went on sale last Saturday, twice the rate of the previous book in the series, and is ordering more copies. W.H. Smith PLC, the UK's largest magazine retailer, sold "hundreds of thousands" of books, said spokeswoman Sue Beaumont. The books sold at a rate of 15 copies a second in the first hours, she said.

"We were expecting it to be hugely popular, and this is in line with our expectations," she said.

Advance orders for the book reached more than 2.2 million copies at Amazon.com Inc, the world's biggest online retailer, and more than 1.3 million at Barnes and Noble, a record for both retailers.

The series has sold more than 325 million copies worldwide since 1997, making it the biggest children's book series ever. The first six books are on the UK's all-time bestseller list, and three have made it to the US bestseller list since 2001, according to New York-based Nielsen Media Research Inc.

Potter and his adventures at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry also spawned a franchise that has generated billions of dollars in sales of DVDs, box-office receipts, soundtracks and licensed trademark goods, according to Nielsen.

Shares of Scholastic, which have fallen 5.7 percent this year, dropped US$0.41 to US$33.80 in NASDAQ Stock Market trading on Friday. London-based Bloomsbury's shares rose ?0.03 to ?1.87. They have declined 27 percent this year.

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