Harry Potter


"Harry Potter and the Big Milestone"

by Josh Grossberg ("E Online," May 2, 2001)

Harry Potter is the publishing world's equivalent of the Energizer Bunny. He just keeps going and going...

J.K. Rowling's books detailing the fantastic life of the congenial teenage wizard with the lightning-bolt scar have managed a magnificent feat. The four titles released so far have sold more than 100 million copies worldwide, according to a statement released Wednesday by Rowling's agent.

"Harry Potter books have entered the pages of history," Rowling's agent, Christopher Little, said. "This is an unprecedented publishing achievement anywhere in the world--either for adult or children's books. To put this into perspective, imagine that every man, woman and child in the U.K. had two Harry Potter books."

The books--Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire--have topped bestseller lists worldwide and have been translated into 42 different languages, including Zulu and Albanian.

The Potter books have reached the sales milestone in about three years. (In comparison, the two best-selling titles of all time, the Bible at 6 billion copies and Mao's Little Red Book at 900 million, have been around for ages.)

Before becoming the most talked-about writer of modern times, Rowling was a single mom living on the dole in Edinburgh. Little, who signed Rowling in 1995 only four days after reading the first Potter novel, says he's awed by how Harry's tales have captured the imaginations of millions of Muggles.

"Korea, Chile, Japan, Germany--wherever you go, it is number one. Maybe we are all the same underneath, for it has the same reaction everywhere. It continues to amaze me," Little tells Reuters.

"Every time we publish a new Harry Potter book, the first one goes back up to the top of the bestseller list. A whole new raft of readers comes back. The momentum hasn't slowed," he adds.

The Potter series has been credited with single-handedly renewing kids' interest in reading in a Pokémon-obsessed era.

The most popular orphan this side of Oliver Twist figures to spellbind readers for years to come. Rowling says there will be at least three more sagas in the seven-book series, with the fifth incarnation, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, tentatively slated for publication in 2002.

And more books (and related merchandise) will undoubtedly fly off the shelves this upcoming holiday season when director Chris Columbus releases the first Potter film, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, in November. Warner Bros. has already announced it's prepping a movie based on Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets to hit theaters next year--about the same time the next Potter book is out.

Meanwhile, to sate the fans and boost a good cause, Rowling recently released two mini-Potter companion books, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Quidditch Through the Ages, with the proceeds benefiting Britain's Comic Relief charity.