Harry Potter's dollar magic will live on

With the final book about the boy wizard set to break publishing records, booksellers expect the entire franchise to have a long shelf life.

By Parija B. Kavilanz, CNNMoney.com senior writer

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Millions of readers are still making their way through the latest Harry Potter, but book sellers are already happy with the outcome.

At midnight Friday, booksellers worldwide released "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," the last in the seven-book series by J.K. Rowling.


Borders Group (Charts) said it sold about 1.2 million copies worldwide on Day 1, the highest single-day sales of any title in its history. Borders, the second-largest U.S. book chain, said it sold 850,000 copies worldwide of the sixth book on its first day in 2005.

According to Wal-Mart, in the first six hours on sale, the book was selling about twice as fast as the sixth did during its release.

Book store chains in Britain said "Deathly Hallows" looks set to become the fastest selling book ever.

"We've sold 100,000 copies in the first two hours across the business in the UK," said Fiona Allen of Waterstone's. "That has outstripped anything we've sold before." The WH Smith chain sold 15 books every second across Britain overnight, breaking the record set by the previous Potter instalment of 13 per second in 2005.

Online retailer Amazon.com (Charts, Fortune 500) said it had pre-sold 2.2 million copies of the book worldwide.

"Deathly Hallows" has already shot to the No. 1 spot on Barnes and Noble's (Charts, Fortune 500) Top 100 bestsellers of 2007, with pre-orders for the book hitting more than 1.4 million, the largest number of pre-orders for any book in the company's history.

And the release is expected to spark sales of other titles. "Every time there is a new book in the [Harry Potter] series, it generates demand in the previous books because there are people who either want to start the series or catch up," said Kim Brown, vice president of merchandising for No. 1 U.S. book seller Barnes and Noble.

Harry Potter casts a spell on the box office

Wal-Mart said a new Harry Potter book typically also boosts sales elsewhere in its stores.

"This event affects our entire store," said Melissa O'Brien, a Wal-Mart spokeswoman. "We've brought back all the past Harry Potter movies on DVD at a great price. We're also highlighting Harry Potter games."

So what happens after Friday to Scholastic, the book's publisher?

"The publishing industry will go on after Harry Potter," said Lisa Holton, president of Scholastic's trade publishing and book fairs. "Harry Potter is timeless literature that's captivated kids from 8 to 19. Even when we don't publish a new Potter book, backlist sales are so phenomenal that the series still eclipses other children's books."

Scholastic (Charts) is initially printing 12 million books for "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows." And Holton said there are more than 121 million copies of the first six Harry Potter books currently in print.

Additionally, the Harry Potter movies are guaranteed to stoke interest in the books for a long time. The first five movies have grossed more than $4 billion globally. Warner Bros, a division of Time Warner (Charts, Fortune 500), parent company of CNNMoney.com, is already working on movies based on the final two installments.

Laine Cunningham, an independent consultant to the publishing industry, called the end of the Potter series a "mixed bag" for the publishing industry.

"On the one hand, the industry doesn't have a brand name with the power of Harry Potter to put on the next book," Cunningham said. "However, you still have the movie tie-ins and other licenses that will keep the brand alive."

Drew Crum, analyst with Stifel Nicolaus & Company, agreed with Cunningham.

"Harry Potter is an extremely popular title and we probably won't see anything like it," Crum said. "But it's also leaving behind a literary classic that will be enjoyed by generations to come."

"Publishing is a mature industry. Once in a while you get a big hit. Harry Potter did create big sales upswings every year a new book came out. No more Harry Potter is probably not good for the industry," he said.

Still, Crum estimates that Scholastic will continue to see sales of between $10 million to $15 million a year just from the backlist for Harry Potter. Top of page

-- Reuters contributed to this story.