Potter pandemonium works magic for retailers
Published Saturday, July 21, 2007 10:13PM EDT
Harry Potter sure worked his magic for a major Canadian book retailer.
His latest adventures in J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" have made it the fastest and best-selling novel in Indigo's history.
The bookstore chain is reporting it sold three books per second when it released the book to the public Saturday morning at 12:01 a.m.
Though hundreds of fans of the series lined up outside bookstores across the world to get their hands on the latest and final instalment of the seven-book saga, even online sales jumped with the hype.
Pre-orders of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" on the Amazon.com website are coming in at the rate of one every five seconds, and more than 1.8 million have been ordered so far.
Amazon is reporting Banff, Alta. is definitely the town with the most Potter fans. Spellbound residents from Banff ordered more copies than any other town in Canada.
Indigo held several parties across the country to mark the book's release. A section of downtown Toronto closed down and transformed into Diagon Alley to accommodate hundreds of made-up witches and sorcerers who lined up for hours to get their hands on the book the minute it was released.
An environmental success
Harry Potter isn't only being hailed a success in publishing circles. Environmentalists are touting the book as the most eco-friendly in the publishing industry.
Sixteen countries printed the book on eco-friendly paper, according to a release by Markets Initiative, a Vancouver-based environmental group that has worked with Rowling.
"Markets Initiative's work on greening the Potter series has fundamentally changed the way that book publishers use paper," the news release says. "More than 300 publishers internationally now print on papers that help safeguard endangered forests. A new paper supply chain has been sparked and 35 new eco-friendly papers developed."
The 'green' publishing of "The Deathly Hallows" has saved enough trees to amount to 2.5 times the size of New York's Central Park and has reduced enough carbon emissions to equal 1,577 cars off the road.
Undoubtedly, as fans breeze through the pages this weekend, they will be too preoccupied with Potter's fate to pay attention to anything else.
Speculation reached a fevered pitch after Rowling revealed in June of last year that two major characters would die, and one would be granted a reprieve, in her conclusion.
Fans have tried to resist temptation for the past week as leaks hit the World Wide Web.
Though there were rumours of Internet leaks, sales of the book went through the roof on opening day. Leaks were reported despite a $20 million security system that included a tracking device in transport trucks and alarms in pallets of books, according to Britain's Sunday Telegraph.
Internet site Wikipedia posted chapter-by-chapter details of who lives and who dies.
But Potter fans say they intend to find out the old-fashioned way -- by turning the pages.
If Friday was mayhem for bookstores, Saturday was madness for Canada Post as thousands of staff working overtime in cities across Canada to deliver 80,000 copies on time.
"Normally there would be about 10, today we have 42 trucks in service," Canada Post's Kathy Neal told CTV News.
Some critics, dark wizards as they're known among Harry Potter fans, have panned the writing and the plot twists.
But readers have paid no heed of the criticism. Just 13 years ago Rowling was an unemployed single mother.
Today, she is worth US$1 billion and is the second wealthiest female entertainer in the world after Oprah Winfrey.
To date, more than 325 million Potter books have been sold worldwide. It's expected the seventh book will sell at least 55 million copies, once translations into French, German, Hebrew, Dutch, Spanish and other languages, become available in late 2007 or early 2008.
The hype machine churned even faster when the fifth movie based on Rowling's series opened in movie theatres Wednesday. "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" shattered records when it took in US$140 million in the U.S. from July 11 through Sunday, July 15.
Because of the overwhelming worldwide appeal of the Potter books, some experts believe Rowling's books and characters could soon take their place alongside literary icons of the past.
"I certainly think there's good reason to believe they'll be up there with (Arthur) Conan Doyle's "Sherlock Holmes" or the "Lord of the Rings" or maybe even Dickens," said Georgetown University Professor Daniel Nexon, who's co-editor of the book "Harry Potter and International Relations."
With the series now officially over, the real magic may be how Rowling intends to pen a non-Potter bestseller.
"The rumours of a prequel are huge and now there's a rumour she's going to write another series entirely," Tory McNally of the McNally Robinson Booksellers told CTV News.
With a report from CTV's Jill Macyshon and files from The Canadian Press