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Final Harry Potter is expected to set record

LONDON -- The final installment of the Harry Potter series is on track to break previous sales records as its British publisher, Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, said yesterday that export orders are already 17 percent ahead of the total overseas sales of the last book.

The seventh book in the series about the boy magician, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," will be published on July 21 with much fanfare, including a midnight reading and signing in London by author J.K. Rowling.

Bloomsbury chairman Nigel Newton did not give any specific figures for the export orders, but has taken more than 1.4 million preorders for the novel.

Overseas demand for the final book has been driven by the fact that the publication of translated versions can take up to three to six months.

The Potter books have been translated into 65 languages and have so far sold more than 300 million copies around the world since the first book was published in 1997.

That has made Rowling a multimillionaire -- with a net worth of around $1.09 billion, according to The Sunday Times annual rich list, in contrast to the $639 million net worth of Queen Elizabeth II -- and underpinning Bloomsbury's profit for several years.

It will launch the boxed-set editions of the complete series of all seven books on Oct. 1.