Potter Conjures Up Huge Sales

LONDON -- Midsummer Potter madness gripped Britain with the latest tale of the teenage wizard flying off the shelves at more than eight copies a second.

"It is the fastest-selling book we have ever had," said a spokeswoman for WH Smith, Britain's largest bookseller, after Saturday's publication of "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" was billed as the world's largest book launch.

"They were going through the tills at more than eight copies a second," she said. "Pre-orders were 10 times bigger than those for the last Harry Potter book."

At London's King's Cross Station, the store recreated the gateway to Platform Nine and Three Quarters where Harry takes the train to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

And the Pottermania was not just confined to the boy wizard's homeland.

Online retailer Amazon said the fifth Potter book had broken Internet sales records with more than 1.3 million advance orders received worldwide.

Around the globe, children starved of a Potter book for almost three years eagerly devoured the weighty new tome and gave many parents a peaceful weekend.

The wizard's creator, multimillionaire author J.K. Rowling, joined in the Pottermania by visiting an Edinburgh book shop to see firsthand all the excitement she had created.

She was thrilled that none of the plot's major secrets -- one of the main characters dies -- had not leaked out.

"I am really happy. I think most kids are going to find out what happens because they have read the book -- and that is what's important to me," said the author, who is now estimated to be richer than Britain's Queen Elizabeth.

Thirteen million copies were printed of the latest saga, and from Sydney to Johannesburg, from Frankfurt to Kuala Lumpur, kids just could not wait to get their hands on the book.

"Harry Potter is a religion," said Connecticut teenager Caitlin Messina, clutching her new Nimbus 2000 broomstick.

Across the globe, Pottermania hit the most world's populous Muslim nation as 7-year-old Indonesian schoolboy Muhammad Rifaldi Kurniawan said of Harry's broomstick: "I like his flying brush. I want to be able to fly, too."

And down under in Australia, 11-year-old Rory Brooks said it all: "I think books are very exciting. Movies are great, I admit that, but books take you away in your own imagination. You feel like you have gone back in time."

Toys 'R' Us in Times Square opened its doors on the stroke of midnight after an ear-shattering loud countdown as several hundred parents, children and curious onlookers waited outside.

In Detroit, Aaron Keteiyan, 8, was bubbling with excitement over reports that one of the main characters dies. "I have heard there's going to be a lot of violence. I like violence."