Months to go, but Harry's last outing still outsells them all
THE seventh and final instalment in the Harry Potter series may not have been published yet, but fans are so desperate to find out what happens to the boy wizard that the book has already outsold all the other best-sellers on Amazon's book chart put together.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is rumoured to be going on release this summer, but it has no official publication date, no price, and it is not even certain that JK Rowling has finished writing it.
But that has not stopped pre-orders on the online giant's website soaring.
It went straight to No 1 in the Amazon chart eight hours after customers were first offered the chance to reserve a copy on 22 December, when Rowling confirmed the title.
The sixth instalment, Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince, sold 1.5 million copies worldwide on pre-order in the months before its release in July 2005.
The Royal Mail, which delivered 500,000 books to UK homes, hiring 150 extra trucks to ship it, has already begun gearing up to hire the extra vehicles and staff to deliver the new one.
Yesterday, Amazon refused to release its detailed sales figures so far. "Last time, we announced the figures when it was at landmark stages and at this point we are not releasing them," a spokesman said.
Despite the lack of information about the publication, Amazon said it "owed" its customers the chance to order it. The announcement of the title prompted a surge of interest in the book, in which Rowling has hinted that a main character, possibly Harry himself, is to be killed off.
The online retailer has given a price guarantee to customers ordering now, which means they will pay the lowest price offered during the pre-order period.
Christopher North, Amazon's head of books, said: "Thousands of people across the UK have been going online to reserve their copy.
"If the initial response is anything to go by, this could be the biggest-selling Harry Potter of all time.
"The fact this is the final instalment seems to have heightened the excitement and buzz around this Harry Potter title.
"Demand for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows could well surpass that of previous releases and we expect more people to pre-order this time round."
Lucy Holden, a spokeswoman for the publisher, Bloomsbury, said it expected the book to outsell Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince, but added that it had not given permission for the book to be pre-ordered.
She said: "Each book in the series has sold more than the last, so we are excited about the last one. Amazon obviously isn't our only customer, but it's very exciting that the book has made it to number one in the bestseller list.
"We haven't given people permission to pre-order the book yet, because we haven't received the final manuscript. JK Rowling is still writing it.
"We don't have any details about the amount of books that have been pre-ordered, and we wouldn't base our print run on that. We don't release details of our print run, and we won't release any information about the book until we have the manuscript."
The adult version of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is in Amazon's No 2 spot, ahead of Neris and India's Idiot-proof Diet, by India Knight. The rest of the top ten ranges from humour to atheism, and includes QI: The Book of General Ignorance, by Stephen Fry, Why Don't Penguins' Feet Freeze? And 114 Other Questions, by Mick O'Hare, and The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins.
Figures show Hogwarts Express still on track
Copies of the sixth book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, sold on advance orders worldwide on the Amazon website.
Years JK Rowling has been working on Harry Potter titles.
Pages in Order of the Phoenix, the largest Harry Potter book to date. There were 652 in Half-Blood Prince and 223 in Philosopher's Stone.
Copies of Half-Blood Prince sold per hour in the US in the first 24 hours of its release, making it the fastest-selling book in recent history.
Average number of children needing emergency medical assistance at John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford for injuries suffered in accidents on Harry Potter release weekends, compared with the normal figure of 67.
Copies of Half-Blood Prince delivered to homes by the Royal Mail, which hired 150 extra lorries to do the job.
Platform at King's Cross station from which the Hogwarts Express departs.
Copies the series has sold worldwide.
Advance offered to Rowling by Bloomsbury for her first Harry Potter book.
Publishers who had rejected the series.
Harry Potter's date of birth
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