Pottermania swept the world Saturday as bookstores unveiled J.K. Rowling’s fifth blockbuster, “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” in what was expected to be the biggest retail event in book publishing history.
The first wave of books was moving through retail outlets with a velocity unmatched by any previous bestseller.
Rowling’s U.S. publisher, Scholastic, estimated that 5 million copies were sold the first day, well ahead of the pace of the fourth Potter tome “Goblet of Fire.”
The 870-page blue volume, which is roughly half the size of a cinderblock and weighs nearly three pounds, met with a frenzied reception at midnight release parties at independent and chain bookstores.
By Saturday, Amazon had recorded more than 1.3 million advance orders worldwide. More than 250,000 copies were shipped by Fedex to Amazon.com customers across the U.S alone.
Barnes & Noble announced Sunday that sales on the first day of release reached 896,000; the first 286,000 units at Barnes & Noble sold in just 60 minutes, and the book chain expected sales to exceed 1 million by the end of the weekend. Borders Books and Music and Waldenbooks sold roughly 750,000 copies in the first day.
In London, the supermarket chain Tesco said it sold 317,400 copies of the book in the first 24 hours, seven times the number sold in the first week of “Goblet of Fire.”
Rowling’s four Potter books have sold an estimated 192 million copies worldwide and have been published in at least 55 languages and distributed in more than 200 countries.
(Associated Press contributed to this report.)