Last Harry Potter book already No. 1
Final chapter in boy wizard saga tops charts on Amazon, Barnes & Noble after one day of pre-orders.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The final chapter of the Harry Potter series has at least one thing in common with the first six - it's already a runaway best seller, six months before it hits store shelves.
Online book retailer Amazon.com (Charts) and the Web site of Barnes & Noble (Charts) were both listing the next book in the popular series, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," as the No. 1 seller Friday, a day after they began taking pre-orders for the book that will hit store shelves on July 21.
What's more, a deluxe edition of the book, which has a $65 list price rather than the $34.99 list price for the standard edition, is the No. 2 seller on both sites.
Amazon Chief Financial Officer Tom Szkutak said Thursday evening that the number of pre-orders in the first seven hours for the new Harry Potter book are already more than triple the first-day pre-orders for the previous Harry Potter book, "Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince." Amazon.com sold more than 1.5 million copies of that book from the time it started taking orders until its July 2005 release.
Szkutak made the comment during a conference call to discuss the company's financial results and guidance. The company offered full-year sales and earnings targets that could put results above analysts' forecasts.
Both booksellers' Web sites are listing the books at a discount for customers who pre-order. Amazon is selling the standard edition for $18.89 and the deluxe version for $39, while Barnes & Noble is charging $20.99 and $45.50, with its members getting a larger discount. Wal-Mart.com is offering the book for $17.27 in pre-orders.
The announcement Thursday of the new book's release date may have stirred sales of the first six books in the series as well. Barnes & Noble lists a box set of paperback editions of the books as the No. 26 best seller on its list, and book No. 6, "Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince" at No. 28. Amazon lists the box set at No. 55, and book No. 6 at No. 71 on its list of best sellers.
Interest in the final book could be heightened by comments from author J.K. Rowling that two characters will be killed off in the final book. Some have speculated Harry Potter might not survive. Some major characters have been killed in earlier works.
But even without that intrigue, the earlier Potter books have seen explosive sales as soon as they were available to their loyal fans.
Scholastic (Charts), the series' U.S. publisher, said "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" was the fastest-selling book in U.S. history, with 6.9 million copies selling in the United States in the first 24 hours.
British publisher Bloomsbury Publishing, which has the ultimate rights to the book that it franchises around the world, said that book sold just over 2 million copies in Britain in the first 24 hours.
Overall the series has sold 325 million copies worldwide and been translated into 64 languages since its initial publication in 1997, according to Bloomsbury's statement.
Bloomsbury said an audio version of the new book, read by Stephen Fry, will be released simultaneously with the print edition for the first time.
The final book also comes out a week after the July 13 release date of the fifth movie, "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," from Time Warner (Charts) unit Warner Bros. Time Warner is also the parent of CNNMoney.com.
The first four Harry Potter movies have raked in $3.5 billion in worldwide ticket sales, according to BoxOfficeMojo.com.
The most recent film, 2005's "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire," did worldwide box office of $892 million, making it the second-best grossing film in the series, behind the first, "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," which did $976 million after its 2001 release.
The sixth movie in the series, "Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince" tentatively has been given a Nov. 21, 2008, release date.