Harry Potter Breaks All Records
Asked whether coordinating printing and binding in multiple locations presented challenges in consistency or quality control, Scholastic officials said they were "absolutely happy" with the quality of book production. Minor variations in the inking characteristics of different presses, for example, did not create problems in delivering a uniformly high-quality product to consumers, they noted.
"Of course, 3.8 million copies demanded a crisp printing timeline and one we knew could be accomplished," they continued.
While exact sales figures and production costs are not publicly available, it seems likely that advance sales in excess of 1 million copies could easily have generated enough revenue to cover the cost of the first printing, a rare and welcome situation for any publisher.
There are currently 21 million copies of the first three Harry Potter books in print, including three hardcover novels and the paperback edition of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.
This story has a happy ending, too. Like any major Hollywood hit, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire will be followed by sequels. And the paperback edition of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets was scheduled for release in August with an initial printing of 3.2 million copies.
What does all of this mean? As Newsweek columnist Anna Quindlen wrote in her article on Harry's success, "Reports of the death of the book have been greatly exaggerated. ... Indeed, in 50 years, today's children won't remember who survived 'Survivor,' but they will remember Harry."