Harry Potter is magic at Amazon, Barnes & Noble

J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” has beaten sales of her previous book, “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” with more consumers now going online to buy.

Amazon.com sold 2.2 million pre-orders worldwide before the book went on sale, surpassing the previous pre-order record of 1.5 million held by the sixth book in the epic Harry Potter series.

In the US alone the online book giant received over 1.4 million pre-orders making the book the company’s largest new-product release ever.

Book retail giant Barnes & Noble Inc. sold a record 1.8 million copies of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” in the first 48 hours of its release at its retail stores and on Barnes & Noble.com, surpassing sales of Rowling’s previous book by 38 percent.

It was a big day for the Postal Service as well, since Amazon.com guaranteed Saturday delivery for books ordered the previous Tuesday. On Saturday, July 21 alone, the first day the book was available to the public, the online retailer delivered nearly 1.3 million copies of the book across the US. Its US fulfillment centers processed about 18 tons of the new title per hour and shipped to more than 43,000 ZIP codes across the country.

Across all of its seven Web sites, Amazon shipped to more than 160 countries around the world. Barnes & Noble.com also kept postal workers busy, shipping to 112 countries.

Since publication of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” the first book in the series, total sales of books in the series at Barnes & Noble have surpassed 11 million copies and $285 million in sales.

“Sales are so high because this is the last installment of this popular series and the anticipation has been very high,” said Margaret Antkowski, a spokeswoman at Amazon.com. “The Harry Potter world is a phenomenal world that is all its own and that has driven lots of sales over the years.”

According to Nielsen BookScan, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” sold 5.2 million copies at retail and online outlets, not including Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, food and drug outlets or specialty stores.

In the first hour, Barnes & Noble bookstores sold 560,000 copies or 156 copies per second. Barnes & Noble stores sold an additional 213,000 copies of titles in the series and Harry Potter-related products.

Both Amazon and Barnes & Noble offered discounts, charging $17.99 and $20.99 respectively, a considerable price slash off of the $34.99 cover price.

The book brought with it special events, as more than one million costumed visitors lined up outside of Barnes & Noble stores on Friday evening, July 20.

On Friday night, Barnes & Noble stores nationwide held “Midnight Magic Costume” parties and stayed open until midnight for fans who wanted to be the first to buy the book.

Amazon does not expect sales to wane, either. Antkowski said: “This series has potential to sell books for years to come.”

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