- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 22, 2003

LONDON (Agence France-Presse) — The latest book about boy wizard Harry Potter has smashed sales records around Britain and flown off shelves at a rate never before seen in publishing history, retailers said yesterday.

Supermarket giant Tesco, which is expected to be the biggest single outlet for “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” said it had phenomenal sales in the 24 hours after the book release.

“It sold 317,000 copies in the first day. That’s around 220 a minute,” a Tesco spokeswoman said.

The book, the fifth installment chronicling the adventures of the orphaned Harry at a boarding school of wizardry, went on sale around the world at midnight British time Friday amid the biggest global fanfare seen for a book release.

Retailers said the book moved at a considerably quicker rate than the last book in the series, “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” which ihad become the fastest-selling book ever on the first weekend of its publication in July 2000.

“The 317,000 sales in 24 hours of the new book compare to 42,000 copies of the last one sold over a week,” the Tesco spokeswoman said.

The country’s leading bookstore chain, W.H. Smith, said it had no overall sales figures but expected “Order of the Phoenix” to be 10 times more popular than the previous work by multimillionaire author J.K. Rowling.

“We are selling around eight copies a second,” a spokeswoman said.

Sainsbury’s, another major supermarket chain, said it had been forced to place a new order with publisher Bloomsbury to restock shelves stripped of the nearly 800-page tome.

Another supermarket group, Asda, estimated it sold 120,000 copies on Saturday.

Online retailer Amazon has reported receiving orders from Britain for more than 420,000 copies, among 1.3 million advance orders worldwide.

More than 200 extra postal vans trundled around the country to deliver copies of the bulky book on Saturday.

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