By James Macintyre
Published: 24 July 2007, in The Independent Online
The seventh and final volume of Harry Potter has become the fastest-selling book in history, with 11 million copies sold in three markets within 24 hours, its publishers said yesterday. After its launch on Saturday, the eagerly awaited volume, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, flew off the shelves around the world.
In the UK, Bloomsbury said it sold a record 2.7 million copies in the first 24 hours, the final volume selling 700,000 more than Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. In the US, meanwhile 8.3 million sales were recorded in the first day, almost 1.5 million more than the previous instalment. It said 400,000 English-language editions of the book sold in Germany in the same period.
Harry Potter mania reached its peak over the weekend as millions queued overnight to get their hands on an early copy of the book, which answers those crucial questions after 10 years of twists and turns: who dies, and does Harry survive?
The book-seller Waterstone's said 250,000 people turned up at midnight on Saturday to queue for their copies. WH Smith said it had sold 15 of the books per second at 400 of its shops since they opened in the middle of the night. Asda said it had sold half of its stock, 250,000 copies, between midnight and 9am on Sunday.
JK Rowling, the author, has received almost exclusively rave reviews for her closely-guarded latest effort, after a relatively mixed reaction to her last six in the series, which sold 325 million worldwide. The Sun described it as "a classic good-versus-evil tale on a par with Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy".
It is being released in 93 countries, with a print run of 12 million in the US and more than 2.2 million ordered in advance from the internet retailer Amazon.
Rowling, who gave a midnight reading at the Natural History Museum on Saturday night, said at the weekend: "All the secrets I have been carrying around for so long will be yours, too ... Those who guessed correctly will be vindicated, and those who guessed wrongly will not, I hope, be too disappointed!"
Bloomsbury said yesterday: "We're grateful to all our printers, distributors and retailers worldwide for the most astoundingly successful book launch ever, and to JK Rowling for the most triumphant close to a magnificent series."
Rowling, 41, was said to be worth £545m before latest sales. The author has expressed bemusement that some newspapers in the US released "spoilers" revealing critical elements to the plot. The New York Times reviewed the work before its official release. But this failed to dampen enthusiasm in the US for the latest chapter in Harry Potter's adventures. The president of Scholastic Trade and Book Fairs, Lisa Holden, compared the hysteria to that which greeted the Beatles' first visit to the United States.
She said children and adults had been united by the experience of reading the new volume.
Police in Bangalore seized hundreds of pirated copies of the cover of Deathly Hallows from a printing press and private house.
And Ladbrokes cut its odds on an eighth tale from 16-1 to 10-1 after a surge of bets.
2.7million is the number of copies that the publisher Bloomsbury says it sold in the UK in the first 24 hours,
700,000 more than the previous volume Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince