The seventh and final book in Jk Rowling's Harry Potter series has become the fastest-selling book in history, early indications show.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows went on sale worldwide at midnight on Saturday UK time and sold more than 8.3 million copies in the following 24 hours in the US alone.

The book's American publisher Scholastic says this easily beats the 6.9 million copies its literary predecessor Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince sold in the corresponding period two years ago.

"This weekend kids and adults alike are sitting on buses, in the park, on airplanes and in restaurants reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," Scholastic's Lisa Holton.

Yesterday a spokesperson for UK publisher Bloomsbury said the Deathly Hallows was expected to have sold three million during its first 24 hours of release in Britain.

Online retailer Amazon has already received 2.2 million pre-orders for the book – itself a new record – while WH Smith said it sold 15 books every second in the day after it hit shelves and 100,000 copies were bought at Waterstone's.

Supermarket chain Asda, which had been embroiled in a price war with Bloomsbury in the run-up to the Deathly Hallows release date, said it had sold the vast majority of its 500,000 copies and was expecting to receive another order soon.

Meanwhile Daniel Radcliffe, who has played the boy wizard in the movie adaptations of the Harry Potter books, has got his hands on an estimated £20 million fortune after turning 18 today.

Radcliffe can currently be seen in cinemas in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and has already signed on to reprise his role in the final two films.

23/07/2007 13:42:36