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Potter in magic of millions

London, Nov. 17 (Reuters): The world’s most famous boy wizard set a new record today — sales of the Harry Potter books have hit a quarter of a billion. And avid Potter fans can rest easy: J.K. Rowling has started work on the sixth book in the saga.

Rowling’s agent, Christopher Little, said worldwide sales of the first five books have now reached 250 million. They have been sold in over 200 countries and translated into 60 languages, ranging from Gujarati to Ancient Greek. The latest, launched in India this month, was in Hindi.

The publishing industry has hailed Rowling’s success in teaching the world’s children to read again in an age of short attention-spans fed a diet of TV, cartoons and computer games.

“J.K. Rowling’s books have paved the way for a new generation of exciting children’s writers, causing a revolution in children’s enthusiasm for reading,” Little said. “We look forward to introducing Harry Potter to yet more readers in the furthest parts of the globe,” he added.

Nor is Rowling resting on her laurels. “J.K. Rowling has begun work on the sixth book about the boy wizard. As yet no date is fixed for its release,” he said.

The release in June of the fifth book, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, was billed as the world’s biggest book launch with kids from New York to Sydney devouring the tome. On day one, 1.78 million copies were sold in Britain alone.

Rowling, once a single mother who penned her books in an Edinburgh cafe, is now a multi-millionaire who has been ranked as the world’s best paid author. The Sunday Times put her earnings over the past year at £125 million, which was calculated as being equivalent to £388 for every word of her latest Potter saga.

“She is a money-making machine. The temptation to keep writing after the last of her seven planned Potter adventures must be irresistible. She could be the first billionaire author in history,” said Philip Beresford, who compiled The Sunday Times pay list.

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