“Harry Potter” Hits 500 Million Worldwide Sales

Back in the opening chapter of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Professor McGonagall talks about how famous Harry Potter is going to be, words that were ultimately fulfilled by the time the last book was published in 2007.

He’ll be famous — a legend — I wouldn’t be surprised if today was known as Harry Potter Day in the future — there will be books written about Harry — every child in our world will know his name!” (SS ch. 1)

Harry Potter, there is no denying it, is a global phenomenon, and over 20 years since the first book was published in the United Kingdom, things show no signs of slowing down. And this year, the series has hit another milestone: 500 million sales worldwide, in 80 different languages. That’s no small feat for a bespeckled boy with a lightning scar.

To really see what this means, let’s take a trip back to the beginning when the Boy Who Lived first appeared on our shelves.

In 1997, Bloomsbury released Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in the UK, with an initial print run of 500 copies. Books about magical boarding schools weren’t meant to be successful, and with it coming in at several thousand words longer than your average children’s book, publishing the story was a gamble. But the book was loved by readers, and word of mouth meant that the book won the coveted Nestlé Smarties Book Prize. In fact, when the winner was being voted on by children, the book won every award it was nominated for.

The book was published in the United States in 1998 and in 1999, topped the New York Times Best Sellers list, where it remained for much of 1999 and 2000. The book was the first children’s book to be featured on the list since Charlotte’s Web in 1952. Since then, a separate children’s book list has been created.

A Publisher’s Weekly report of children’s bestsellers in 2001 placed the paperback version of the first book at number 19 on the list, with 6.6 million copies sold – and that was just the first book.

The rest is publishing history.

The final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the fastest selling fiction book of all time, sold11 million copies in the first 24 hours of its release.

In 2007, just before the final book’s release, the Guardian reported that book sales were close to 400 million copies worldwide. In just ten years, the series has added another 100 million copies sold to that number.

Of course, since the last book was released back in 2007, the publications haven’t stopped there. The Tales of Beedle the Bard followed in 2008. We’ve now got illustrated editions, brand new covers and versions of the whole series, and reinterpretations of the Hogwarts Library books.

To celebrate this new landmark sales number, Bloomsbury has released a video.


We’re sure that we’ll continue to see our Harry Potter libraries grow over the years, and we won’t be surprised if that figure grows rather a lot over the next ten years too…