The record-breaking sales of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows provided a much needed shot in the arm to bookstore sales, which were down 4.3% through May and had fallen every month this year. The trend will undoubtedly be broken in July. The 8.3 million copies of Hallows that Scholastic reported selling in the first 24 hours was far above the sales of The Secret, the top-selling title in the first half of 2007 (see story p. 8). And Hallows starred beyond the U.S., breaking records in the U.K. and Canada as well, with sales of 2.6 million and 812,000 copies, respectively, within two days in those countries.
A look at how Hallows did in different sales channels in America says a lot about how books, especially bestsellers, are sold today. Although the figures measure slightly different time periods, the numbers supplied by the major players show that of the 8.3 million copies sold, 5.2 million went through the mostly traditional channels measured by Nielsen BookScan. The company estimates that it covers 65%—70% of all book sales, and its Potter total represents 63% of sales. Barnes & Noble appears to have edged out Amazon as the leading Hallows seller in the U.S, although Amazon likely sold more copies of the book worldwide than any other company. Borders took third place among the major U.S. outlets.
Many independents also reported strong sales: 2,100 at Anderson's in Naperville, Ill.; 1,187 at New York City's Strand, while Books of Wonder in New York sold over 1,500; and Skylight Books in Los Angeles sold 400 copies. Books of Wonder owner Peter Glassman called the store's midnight party “the best event we've ever had. What was really nice was that because it moved so smoothly, people actually bought other books. It was really one of the highlights of my career as a bookseller.”