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Just wild about Harry

AP photoThe cover of "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix."
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In an age when electronic gadgets are supposed to storm the entertainment world, the weekend was dominated by an item that dates back to Guttenberg – a book.Harry Potter just keeps topping himself.With the introduction and pre-sales of “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” the fifth in the seven-book series, superstar author J.K. Rowling became richer than the Queen of England.””We expected to sell 1 million copies in the first week, and we sold that many within the first 48 hours,” Steve Riggio, chief executive officer of Barnes & Noble Inc., said Sunday as “”Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” set records around the world in its first weekend.Locally, The Bookworm of Edwards was packed at midnight Friday as the popular book officially went on sale.”Our Harry Potter celebration was a huge success,” said The Bookworm’s Kathy Westover. “On Friday night we sold 75 books in 45 minutes. “All of the 250 we initially had in stock are spoken for, and half of the 100-copy order that comes in on Tuesday are gone.”E-commerce recordNobody in publishing had seen anything like it, at least since the last Potter book came out three years ago. Borders Group Inc. reported worldwide sales of 750,000 the first day. Amazon.com shipped out more than a million copies of the new book, making Saturday the largest distribution day of a single item in e-commerce history.”It’s amazing!” said Westover. “On Friday night we had so many people in the store that we couldn’t squeeze any more in.”In London, the supermarket chain Tesco reported selling 317,400 copies of the fifth in J.K. Rowling’s fantasy series in the first 24 hours – seven times the number sold in the first week of Potter IV, “”Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.”Best-selling best-seller””The book has now broken all our sales records, and there is no doubt that this will be the best-selling book we have ever stocked,” said Tesco book buyer Caroline Ridding.Some retailers had worried that even an enormous first printing, 8.5 million in the U.S. alone, wouldn’t last long enough to keep up with demand. A lot of latecomers found themselves settling for a mere pre-order in place of a book.Riggio said many Barnes & Noble stores had run out of copies, and that more would arrive “”over the next few days.” The Book House in Albany, N.Y., sold out its 1,050 copies of “”Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” by Saturday afternoon, even though it limited purchases to two per person.A Borders bookstore in Columbus, Ohio, had just enough Potter books for the people who reserved them this weekend, and another shipment was expected by Monday or Tuesday.Borders store manager Mathew Kowalski said many customers who could not get the new book bought copies of the other Potter novels.””We sold some other books, but it was mainly Harry Potter sales this weekend,” Kowalski said.Missing pagesThe release of Potter V was not flawless. Some stores put the book on sale before its June 21 publication date, and a seller in Lynchburg, Va., Givens Books, discovered that more than 40 of its copies were missing 33 pages. Scholastic Inc., the U.S. publisher of Potter, said the books would be replaced.Rowling’s first four Potter books have sold an estimated 192 million copies worldwide, having been published in at least 55 languages and distributed in more than 200 countries. Blockbuster movies have been made of the first two books, and a movie stemming from the third will be released next year.All the hype for Harry didn’t stop critics from enjoying “”Order of the Phoenix.” The New York Times, in a rare front-page review, praised the author’s “”bravura storytelling skills and tirelessly inventive imagination.” USA Today cited Rowling’s “”wonderful, textured writing”; The Associated Press reported “”It was worth the wait. And then some.”Midnight oilLights burned all through the weekend as Potter fans didn’t let anything as silly as sleep keep them from working through the 870-page book.Eleven-year-old Geronimo “”G” Gisleson of New Orleans said he received his copy Saturday and was up to page 650 by midday Sunday.When his mother, Susan, went into his room Sunday morning, she realized he’d been reading all night, using the light from a bathroom across the hall that had been left on as a night light for his younger brother, she said.””He was sprawled on the floor with the book next to him,” she said.The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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