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Last Harry Potter Book Sets Online Pre-Sale Record

The seventh and final book in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series has become online retailer Amazon's most pre-ordered product, with almost 1.6 million copies bought globally ahead of the book's release on July 21.

Amazon said on Monday that demand for "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" passed the previous record of 1.5 million copies ordered online before the release of the previous book in the series, "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince."

The retailer predicted that the number of orders for the seventh book would rise by "many more hundreds of thousands of copies."

The figures underline the huge international demand among readers for the final adventures of the boy wizard, which has been heightened by speculation over which characters Rowling will kill off at the end.

She has said that at least two characters will die in "Deathly Hallows," but has been careful not to name them.

The six Harry Potter books already published have sold around 325 million copies worldwide, and Rowling is known as the first ever dollar-billionaire author.

The books have also spawned a successful film franchise that has earned around $3.5 billion in global ticket sales from the first four movies.

The fifth, "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," is released later this month and the final picture is due for release in 2010.

Harry Potter is published by Bloomsbury in Britain and distributed in the United States by Scholastic .

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