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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 December, 2004, 17:00 GMT
Harry Potter's magic Midas touch
Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter
The Harry Potter films have turned Daniel Radcliffe into a star

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, by JK Rowling, will be published in July next year. The BBC News website examines the money-making machine the teenage wizard has become.

When Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone hit the shop shelves in 1997, there was little indication the boy wizard would conjure up a global phenomenon.

But within a few short years, Harry's adventures at Hogwart's School of Witchcraft and Wizardry would be provoking a frenzy among Potter fans desperate to get their hands on author JK Rowling's latest offering.

Harry's tales of life at Hogwart's have gone on to sell more than 265 million books worldwide and been translated into 62 languages, ranging from Gujarati to Classical Greek.

The fifth book, The Order of the Phoenix, sold an astonishing five million copies within 24 hours of publication - 1.7m in the UK alone - when it was published in July 2003.

Big profits

It is something that Rowling's UK publishers, Bloomsbury, hope to repeat with Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, which is out on 16 July next year.

Nigel Newton, chief executive of Bloomsbury Publishing, said the book was likely to take the Harry Potter series to "greater heights".

Harry's fifth adventure at Hogwart's School helped Bloomsbury's annual profits jump 38% in 2003.

Scott Pack, the buying manager at Waterstones, told the BBC News website they were anticipating a bigger response than in 2003.

"It's a bit of a logistical nightmare really. How do you get that many books to the stores to sell to that many people. Last time we opened out Piccadilly store at midnight and it was great fun.

"There really isn't anything else like Harry Potter in retail... it is an almost universal phenomenon."

JK Rowling
JK Rowling is expecting her third child next year

Mr Pack added that the stores had taken a lot of calls on Tuesday from people desperate to get their hands on The Half-Blood Prince and would start taking reservations.

But while Harry Potter's success may have been built on book sales, his magic influence has extended way beyond the pages.

The teenage wizard's tales have spawned three major Hollywood blockbusters, computer games, and inspired Potter paraphernalia, including toys, board games, sweets and clothing.

Harry's adventures in movie versions of The Philosopher's Stone, Chamber of Secrets and Prisoner of Azkaban have taken a combined total of about 1.356bn ($2.6bn) at the worldwide cinema box office.

Production is also underway on the Goblet of Fire and plans are already in place for the fifth and sixth films.

They have made stars of Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson, who play Harry, Ron Weasley and Hermione Grainger.

Personal wealth

Radcliffe has himself reportedly made millions of pounds from the role.

But the figure does little to rival the personal fortune Rowling has amassed from her character.

Earlier this year US business magazine Forbes estimated Rowling was worth $1bn - making her the first billion-dollar author.

But Rowling, who was unemployed and almost penniless when she started on the first Harry Potter book, has dismissed some estimations of her personal wealth.

In an interview with the BBC's Jeremy Paxman in November 2003, Rowling denied being "richer than the queen" when the Sunday Times Rich List claimed she was worth 280m.

But this year the compilers of the list stuck to their guns - and upped her estimated income to 435m.


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