Twenty years ago, readers around the world first discovered the magical story of Harry Potter, created by J.K. Rowling. We can now reveal that, since that moment, half a billion Harry Potter books have now been sold. On average, this means one in fifteen people in the world owns a Harry Potter book. The 500 million sales are across the seven books in the series and the three companion volumes, in print and eBook versions.
First published by Bloomsbury in 1997, the books have now been translated into over 80 different languages across the world, with more to come. From Albanian to Azerbaijani to Hebrew to Hawaiian, the stories are becoming accessible to more people all the time.
The seven Harry Potter books contain a total of more than a million words – 1,100,086 to be precise – with some of the invented words, such as ‘Muggle’ and ‘Quidditch’, entering everyday language.
Not surprisingly, the first Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, remains the best-selling book of the seven. However, it’s the final book in the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, that is the fastest selling book of fiction of all time.
The stories are devoured not only as print and eBooks, but we love listening to them too. The audiobooks, narrated by many talented voices worldwide including Jim Dale and Stephen Fry, have clocked up their own impressive numbers, with more than 4 billion Harry Potter minutes being consumed since 2016 as digital audiobooks alone.
And the Harry Potter books are continuously evolving – through new translations, gorgeous collectible editions, new jacket art, and new internal illustrations by renowned artists, who make us see our favourite characters in a new way.
To celebrate its 20th birthday in the US, the first Harry Potter book will be going on a whole new journey in 2018, with Scholastic and Pottermore preparing for the big anniversary across bookshops, libraries, schools and festivals, and commissioning renowned artist Brian Selznick as new cover illustrator. With the smash hit play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child coming to Broadway in the spring, and the launch of the exhibition, Harry Potter: A History of Magic, at the New-York Historical Society this October, this year is set to be a bonus year for Harry Potter in the USA. And of course, don’t forget about the second Fantastic Beasts film coming out this November, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.
In 2017, the UK celebrated 20 years since Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was first published. A large-scale campaign from Bloomsbury saw house editions of the first book available, a Guinness World Record broken and an online favourite moments video that has been viewed more than ten million times. Bloomsbury continue to celebrate 20 years on, with events around Harry Potter Book Night, and publication of the new House editions of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
We think it’s fair to say that, 20 years and 500 million books later, Harry Potter still has the power to transport us to a whole new world within its pages. This is exactly why we’ll keep on reading them forever, passing them on for many generations to come.