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Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 July, 2003, 10:28 GMT 11:28 UK
Potter conquers French book list
Potter fan reading book
The fifth Harry Potter book is the fastest-selling in history
France's best-seller list has been topped for the first time by a book in English - the latest Harry Potter novel.

JK Rowling's Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix came out 10 days ago on 21 June, but France will not get its translated version until 3 December.

This did not stop more than 16,000 copies in English flying off the shelves in France, where it topped sales for all categories, not just children's listings.

It's the first time since we started the rankings that a book written in English has been tops in weekly bookstore sales
Ipsos polling institute

A spokeswoman for literary magazine Livres Hebdo said the initial estimate of 16,000 was already being "revised up".

"The actual figure was more likely to have been between 25,000 and 30,000," she said.

France's best-seller list began in 1999 and is put together with information from 800 outlets, from small neighbourhood shops to mass-market stores.

More than 12 million copies of the first four books have been sold so far in France, and the fifth is topping best-seller lists around the globe.

In the UK it broke UK sales records, selling more than 1,777,000 copies on its first day, according to estimates.

And thousands of school children flocked to the Albert Hall in London last week to hear JK Rowling give a one-off reading of her latest book.

JK Rowling signing autographs
JK Rowling recently met thousands of her young fans in London
She read an extract from the fifth Potter adventure, The Order of the Phoenix, in front of 4,000 children.

The writer was joined on stage by actor Stephen Fry, who put questions to her from children around the world. The whole event was broadcast on the internet.

Rowling shocked her young fans when she hinted that Harry Potter could face mortal peril and be killed off.

One young fan asked her whether she planned to write books about an adult Harry.

She said: "You have to wait and see whether he survives to be a grown-up.

"I'm not saying he won't but I don't want to give anything away."

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