Potter e-books sell 'over £1m in three days'

Pottermore's Harry Potter e-book sales were worth "over £1m" in the first three days following publication on 27th March, the business' chief executive Charlie Redmayne has revealed. Speaking to Radio Litopia's "The Naked Book" yesterday evening (4th April), Redmayne said sales in the first three days were ahead of what the firm had expected prior to launch, and also ahead of "anything I've ever seen for e-book sales".

The number means that the digital versions of the Harry Potter titles may have out-sold their print equivalents during that launch week. According to Nielsen BookScan, the seven Harry Potter print books brought in £36,000 in sales across bookshops that week, with total spending on the books so far this year at £588,000, but the worldwide figure would be much bigger. In the UK in 2011 the backlist titles brought in sales of £4m, from sales of 530,000 individual books sold. In the US Nielsen BookScan measured 1.6m units of the Potter books sold in 2011.

Redmayne said: "We had budgeted for a much lower figure, I had looked at the physical sales of the books, and tried to anticipate what proportion of sales would be digital, and that there was a certain amount of pent-up demand, but it surpassed anything we anticipated." He said post-launch the figure had "settled down" but continued to exceed predictions. "It is still running at a much higher rate than I was anticipating, even for the launch. It is still surpassing anything I've ever seen for e-book sales."

Redmayne said he had put in place an infrastructure and customer services team aimed at meeting customer demand. "Everything that Harry Potter does surpasses expectations. We had planned for something that we just couldn't anticipate."

Redmayne declined to say what the bestselling title was, but he said the top selling offer was the "bundle", which outperformed any individual title, with the average basket-size partly responsible for the high revenues.

Redmayne added that the company had seen a slight increase in piracy on launch day, but said he still hoped to see it fall. "The day we launched we saw a slight rise, and then we saw it fall back again. We reacted very quickly." He added: "We hope by making them available piracy will fall."