9 years after the release of the last installment in the Harry Potter franchise, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was released for sale at one minute past midnight on July 31, the same day as Harry and J.K. Rowling's birthdays.
Despite almost a decade passing between books, and the fact that the Cursed Child is not actually a novel (it's the script book for the play currently showing in London), Harry Potter fans worldwide queued outside book stores dressed as their favorite characters, patiently waiting to get their hands on a copy. And, after sales began, it quickly became clear that this was an important moment for all Potter fans:
The script book is now the most preordered book of 2016, and US publisher Scholastic printed a massive 4.5 million copies for US readers alone, but how does the release of the eighth installment stack up against the previous seven? Take a trip down memory lane and read about how the Harry Potter series went from little-known novel, to cultural touchstone:
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's/Philosopher's Stone - 1997
In June 1997, just 500 copies of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone were printed (the standard run for a first novel), with most being sent to libraries. It wasn't until the book started winning acclaim from reviewers, as well as awards such as the 1997 Nestlé Smarties Book Prize, that it really started to be noticed. By early 1999 the book has sold over 300,000 copies in the UK, and remained the UK's best-selling title in December 2001.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - 1998
Though it was released in the UK almost a year before the US (July 2 1998 in the UK vs June 2 1999 in the US), that didn't stop Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets topping multiple best sellers lists across the two markets.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - 1999
Selling 68,000 copies in the first three days of release, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban quickly became the fastest selling British book for the time. Altogether it's thought that over 3.3 million copies of the book have been sold to date.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - 2000
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was the first of the Harry Potter series to be released in the UK and the US on the same date, proving that the series had become so popular that US readers were no longer willing to wait longer than their UK counterparts. In addition, the Goblet of Fire started the tradition of Harry Potter midnight releases, with sales starting from the stroke of midnight on July 8, 2000 (the book was also released on a Saturday to prevent kids cutting class in favor of buying a copy). Between the US and UK over 5 million copies were printed and 3 million were sold over the opening weekend in the US alone.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - 2003
Three years after the previous installment, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire set the literary world on fire even before it was released. Over 1.3 million copies of the novel was preordered on Amazon, blasting pre-order records out of the water. Altogether 13 million copies of the Goblet of Fire were published and distributed world wide, with American audiences snapping up 5 million copies in the first 24 hours of sale.
Such was the hype for this fourth book that bookstores had to agree not to place their copies on sale until the stroke of midnight on June 20, 2003. And while thousands queued for their chance to buy a copy, some couldn't wait and around 8,000 of the books were stolen from a warehouse in England days before the official release date.
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince - 2005
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince was another record breaker for the franchise, with 1.4 million copies preordered on Amazon, and a massive 10.8 million initial print run in America alone. 6.9 million copies of the book sold in the first 24 hours of sale in the US, and a further 2 million in the UK.
But the release of the Half Blood Prince wasn't without controversy, with bookmakers in the UK taking bets on which main character would die. Betting was briefly suspended when it was suspected that residents of the town Bungay — where the novel was being printed — had insider knowledge, due to the large number of bets being places on Dumbledore. There was also a mix up in Canada which resulted in 14 copies of the book being accidentally sold before the official release date, and an injunction from the Supreme Court of British Columbia was obtained in order to prevent the purchasers from reading the book before the official release date.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - 2007
10 years after Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone began the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows ended it. On July 21, 2007 the novel went on sale and immediately broke records (albeit records set by the previous installment). 15 million copies were sold in the first 24 hours of its release, with 8.3 million flying out the doors in the US alone, and over the next 10 days a further 3. 2 million copies would be sold in the US.
Once again the release had some controversy, with hundreds of books being shipped early, and some copies even being resold on eBay. The whole book was also leaked prior to release when someone photographed and transcribed all 759 pages, this was then uploaded to websites and peer-to-peer networks. This was the most serious leak in the history of the Harry Potter series.