J K Rowling and Jack Thorne’s Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Little, Brown) has become the fourth fastest-selling title of all time, with 847,886 copies worth £8.76m shifted through Nielsen BookScan's Total Consumer Market last week, making it 2016's biggest selling title of the year in just seven days.
This is by far the biggest single-week volume of any title in nearly a decade, beating E L James’ Fifty Shades of Grey's (Arrow) biggest week in summer 2012 by nearly 200,000 copies. However, Rowling has done a fairly neat job of destroying everyone else’s records while keeping her own intact: the last three Harry Potter titles—Deathly Hallows, Order of the Phoenix and Half-Blood Prince—all sold faster, shifting well over a million copies apiece in their first weeks on sale, with Deathly Hallows (Bloomsbury) taking the all-time record for the biggest-selling single week title, shifting 1.84m copies (and a further 790,622 copies sold of the adult edition).
Though coded in BookScan's Children's Fiction category, The Cursed Child is, of course, a play. As such, it is by far the biggest-selling playscript since records began—a Penguin Classics edition of William Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet is a distant second, having sold 127,726 copies since 1998. In fact, Rowling's book in its first week sold more than the entire Drama Texts, Plays & Screenplays sub-category did in all of 2015—690,577 units sold for worth £5.1m—and that was a good year.
Though Joe Wicks’ Lean in 15's (Bluebird) total volume since publication is a scant 3,238 copies above Cursed Child’s first week, the healthy eating cookbook was released in the last week of December 2015—so on 2016 sales, Cursed Child is the biggest-selling book of the year by 85,000 copies. The playscript has also outsold the previously bestselling Children’s title of the year, David Walliams’ The World’s Worst Children (HarperCollins Children's), by nearly three-to-one and has ended his 11-week run as Children’s number one.
David Shelley, c.e.o of Little, Brown Book Group said: “We’re all so pleased and proud that the script book of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has officially sold almost 850,000 copies in the UK alone in its first week, making it the fastest-selling book for almost a decade, and the fastest-selling play script of all time. This is way beyond our most optimistic expectations and is testament to the passion readers have for J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World, as well as to the amazing reception the play itself has had. We’ve also been blown away by the terrific support, creativity and enthusiasm we’ve seen from all our retailers across the UK and in our territories around the world– they have been the most amazing partners.”
Cursed Child aside, the Top 50 was awash with Harry Potter titles. Combined, the original seven titles sold 32,087 copies, a 51.3% jump on the week before. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Bloomsbury)— racking up its best weekly volume since the launch of Deathly Hallows— hit 22nd place, with Chamber of Secrets in 37th and Prisoner of Azkaban falling just short of the Top 50, in 52nd place.
Spin-offs Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and The Tales of Beedle the Bard (both Bloomsbury) also hit the Top 50, alongside two Harry Potter Colouring Books (the original and Harry Potter Magical Places and Characters Colouring Book—both Studio Press), bringing the total Harry Potter haul to 51,703 copies combined.
Somehow, there are still other, non-Potter-related things happening in the charts. The release of the Man Booker 2016 longlist has pushed Elizabeth Strout into the Top 50 for the first time—although not for the book she was longlisted for. While My Name is Lucy Barton (Viking) climbed 70 places into the top 600, her 2009 Pulitzer Prize winner Olive Kitteridge (Simon & Schuster), Waterstones Fiction Book of the Month, leapt 240 places to 30th.
Clare Mackintosh took the Original Fiction number one from James Patterson’s one-week-wonder Bullseye (Century), with I See You (Sphere) shifting 3,518 copies. Her debut, I Let You Go (Sphere), has sold 269,841 copies in paperback to date.
Elsewhere, the chart was very business-as-usual: Jamie Oliver held the Hardback Non-Fiction number one for a fourth week running with Super Food Family Classics (Michael Joseph), while Wicks’ Lean in 15: The Shape Plan (Bluebird) racked up its eighth atop the Paperback Non-Fiction chart. Paula Hawkins’ The Girl on the Train (Black Swan) was the bestselling Mass Market Fiction title for an 11th non-consecutive week—the third longest run since records began, tied with Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (Cape).