- The Washington Times - Monday, July 18, 2005

The young wizard made magic once again this weekend.

Book retailers Barnes & Noble Inc. and Borders Group Inc. each reported selling more than a million copies of “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” — the sixth installment in the series by J.K. Rowling about the boy wizard and his friends — Saturday and Sunday.

“This weekend was nothing short of a triumph for publishing, bookselling and reading,” said Steve Riggio, chief executive officer of Barnes & Noble, the world’s largest bookseller.

The book was officially released one minute after midnight Saturday at more than 5,000 “Midnight Magic” parties with games, treats and prizes in bookstores across the country.

Lines as long as 1,200 customers snaked throughout Barnes & Noble stores in some cities.

More than half a million fans attended special “Midnight Magic” parties at Borders Group bookstores around the globe, said Beth Bingham, Borders Group’s public relations director.

The new book broke all publishing records Saturday — selling an unprecedented 6.9 million copies in its first 24 hours on the shelves, according to Scholastic Corp., the world’s largest publisher and distributor of children’s books.

In the first 24 hours of the book’s release, bookstores sold:

• 287,500 copies every hour.

• More than 4,791 copies every minute.

• About 80 copies every second.

Despite the first day’s success, Scholastic would not disclose how many copies were sold over the entire weekend.

First-day sales at Barnes & Noble increased 40 percent over first-day sales of Miss Rowling’s previous book, “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” Mr. Riggio said.

Barnes & Noble sold a record 1.3 million copies in the first 48 hours of its release — 378,000 of which were sold in the first hour.

On Saturday, sales topped 850,000 at Borders, Books Etc. and Waldenbooks stores worldwide — the highest first-day sales of any title in Borders Group’s history.

More than a million copies were sold over the entire weekend, Ms. Bingham said.

The previous books in the series sold well the first week, and sales remained strong during the holiday season, she said.

“The only thing you can compare it to honestly is other Harry Potter books because the last Harry Potter set topped sales records,” Ms. Bingham said. “It’s really like nothing else in publishing.”

Harry Potter is no stranger to the best-seller list: all five of the previous Potter books were top best-sellers in the United States, Britain and around the world.

Counting book six, the total number of Harry Potter books in print — published by Scholastic in the U.S. — is more than 116 million copies, according to Scholastic.

Most bookstores aren’t anticipating a decrease in Harry Potter’s popularity in between books six and seven — the last book of the series whose release date has not been announced.

“The greatest thing with Harry Potter is that the fans are sticking with it, and they’re growing up with it,” Ms. Bingham said.

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