Considering all the hype surrounding the seventh and final book in the Harry Potter series, you would think that the July 21 release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows ($34.99, Scholastic) is one of the most anticipated events in human history. Well, almost.
The tome is indeed well on its way to break some records in the literary world, sitting at 1.5 million preorders just on Amazon.com (as of June 29). That’s three weeks from release and already surpassing the site’s previous preorder record, for 2005’s Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Even totaling sales from all seven volumes of J.K. Rowling’s boy wizard series, the world will still have to wait before Harry tops the all-time bestseller: the Bible (estimated at over 6 billion in sales, according to Richard Ash’s Top Ten of Everything, 2002). See how Deathly Hallows compares to other anticipated moments in pop culture. It can’t hold a hovering chandelier to soccer, but the book could help push the Potter series past the Super Bowl in popularity:
715,100,000 people watched the final game of the 2006 World Cup. Italy defeated France 5-3 in Germany.
133,700,000 watched Super Bowl XXXIX in 2005 as the New England Patriots beat the Philadelphia Eagles 24-21.
121,500,000 estimated copies sold, in all languages, of the first six Potter books, combined.
105,900,000 people watched the series finale of M*A*S*H on February 28, 1983; 80,400,000 watched the May 20, 1993, finale of Cheers on television, and “only” 76,300,000 people watched the end of Seinfeld on May 14, 1998.
Sources: www.fifa.com, www.superbowl.com, Publishers Weekly, Reuters.