Mapping the World of Harry Potter
Here are some interesting statistics to ponder:
In 2003, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, by J. K. Rowling, was released. According to the Wall Street Journal:
- 630 Barnes & Noble stores sold 286,000 copies in the first hour; 896,000 copies the first day.
- 1,200 Borders and Waldenbooks stores sold 750,000 copies in the first 23 hours, the highest first-day sales in their history.
- In the UK, WHSmith sold 120,000 copies the first day. 31,500 postmen were needed to deliver the book in England.
- In total, 5 million copies were sold the first day, shattering all records.
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The Harry Potter books are arguably the most popular in the history of modern publishing. I can think of no other books ostensibly written for children where there has been a separate set of editions with sober black-and-white covers issued so that adults could read them in public without embarrassment. I can think of no other fantasy books, even those written for adults, where one could fi nd an entire university soccer team in line to purchase them on the fi rst day of issue, something I saw with my own eyes when I was in the U.K.
Such success attracts a great deal of attention, not all of it positive. It has introduced a veritable horde of new would-be writers and eager readers to the hitherto murky and marginal world of fan fi ction. It has engendered acrimony bordering on hysteria from those who see the books as dangerous. It has spawned an entire industry of forgers, frauds and copycats.
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