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Harry Potter - 500 million copies!

12 February 2018

Last week's Harry Potter Book Day led Bloomsbury to release some amazing figures for the series, which have now exceeded 500 million copies sold worldwide. The figures take into account sales across all versions of the seven books in the series, which began with Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone in 1997, as well as three companion volumes.

The books have been translated into 80 different languages, including Albanian, Azerbaijani, Hawaiian and Manx, and one in fifteen people in the world now owns a Harry Potter book.

Bloomsbury has released several different versions of the Harry Potter books over the years, including books illustrated by Jim Kay, and editions covered with the different house colours and designed by Levi Penfold. The company has also updated the companion volumes and a version of The Tales of Beedle the Bard, illustrated by Chris Riddell, will be released this year.

The new illustrated versions by Jim Kay are quite remarkable. Kay said illustrating the first book was an "extraordinarily difficult" task: "It was not so much the act of doing it but the pressure. Every time I sat in front of a blank piece of paper I felt hand-shaking pressure!"

He spent 12 hours a day, seven days a week creating a visual representation of the entire Harry Potter universe, starting with Hogwarts, building a Plasticine model of the school and checking everything was in the right place and "facing in the right direction".

Kay said that as far as he knows, Harry Potter author J K Rowling has not requested any changes. "She is amazing, she just lets you reinvent things," he said. "I got a letter from her saying how much she liked it and it was the nicest letter I've ever had. It took me six months to get up the courage to write back."

You can see these amazing illustrations in this Bookseller article or in the three illustrated volumes already published and making the series available to a whole new generation of readers.