Kids Chose Potter Over Movies

The new Harry Potter book sold an astonishing 6.9 million copies in its first 24 hours, averaging better than 250,000 sales per hour and smashing the U.S. record held by the previous Potter release.

"This is a cause for celebration, not just for Scholastic, but for book lovers everywhere," said Lisa Holton, president of Scholastic Children's Books, author J.K. Rowling's U.S. publisher.

Sales for the sixth installment of Rowling's fantasy series easily outpaced those for Potter V, "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," which came out in 2003 and sold 5 million copies in the first 24 hours.

The Early Show correspondent Melinda Murphy reports fans lined up this weekend to get their hands on "Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince," which answers a lot of questions about the boy wizard and sets up the final book of the saga.

At 12:01 Saturday morning, muggles and wizards the world over finally got their hands on the sixth Harry Potter book.

It was important for Alexandra Korves to be first in line. Why? "So you can be one of the first to read it," she says.

From Tokyo to Buenos Aires, kids partied for Potter. In fact, according to potterparties.com, there were more than 2,300 midnight extravaganzas the world over.

"J.K. Rowling is a genius," one young reader said.

Rowling spent her midnight reading aloud at Edinburgh Castle in Scotland, while her book cast quite a spell elsewhere. "Half-Blood Prince" is the richest opening in publishing history, topping the combined estimated take for the weekend's top two movies, "Charlie And The Chocolate Factory" and the "Wedding Crashers."

"When a book beats out movies, we're in great shape," Scholastic's Holton said.

Perhaps proving what some say is the best thing about Harry Potter: He's brought kids back to books.

Books of Wonder owner Peter Glassman, said, "It's all about magic, joy, fun and most importantly the joy of reading."

But is this just hocus-pocus or is there something more here? According to critics, the book is great. But is that the real reason kids want to read it as soon as possible? Or could it be something else?

Dante Fernandez, 9, said it means a lot to get one of the first copies. "I can brag about it at my school," he explained.

Ah, the trick revealed.

The Scholastic numbers are for the United States only. Sales figures from Britain are expected Monday.

Anticipated from the moment fans finished Potter V, the new book has been available virtually everywhere, from Price Clubs and supermarkets to the Scholastic Web site. Holton said Sunday that a big factor in the new sales record was a six-fold increase in the number of Potter bookstore parties, from 800 to 5,000, with both superstores and independent retailers dramatically increasing their participation.

Even allowing for deep discounts on the $29.99 release, "Half-Blood Prince" still easily generated more than $100 million in revenue.
  • Tatiana Morales

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