"The hottest day of the summer so far was drawing to a close and a drowsy silence lay over the large, square houses of Privet Drive.... The only person left outside was a teenage boy who was lying flat on his back in a flowerbed outside number four."

The book was released on June 21, 2003, on a Saturday. Thousands of fans lined up outside bookstores, waiting for the book to go on sale. Many stores announced that they would open at midnight of that day to sell their first copies, and plenty of eager fans in the US and UK were there to sell out their copies.

It is 38 chapters and 255,000 words long, a third longer than the last installment, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, which was the thickest.

The previous installment was the fastest selling book in history. Now that two movies are out and the fanbase has grown, this book beat that record. "We expected to sell 1 million copies in the first week and we sold that many within the first 48 hours," Barnes & Noble CEO Steve Riggio said about 2 days after the release. Borders Group reported worldwide sales of 750,000 the first day. Amazon.com shipped out more than a million copies of the new book, making June 22 the largest distribution day of a single item in e-commerce history. In London, the supermarket chain Tesco said it sold 317,400 copies of the fifth in J.K. Rowling's fantasy series in the first 24 hours, seven times the number sold in the first week of Potter IV. "The book has now broken all our sales records and there is no doubt that this will be the best selling book we have ever stocked," said Tesco book buyer Caroline Ridding. Critics speedread through it to compete to be the first to review it.

Nigel Newton, chief executive of J.K. Rowling's UK publisher, Bloomsbury, described the Order of the Phoenix as "a brilliant and utterly compelling new adventure" and promised fresh revelations about the boy wizard's past.

Here's an excerpt:

"Dumbledore lowered his hands and surveyed Harry through his half-moon glasses.
"'It is time,' he said, 'for me to tell you what I should have told you five years ago, Harry.
"'Please sit down. I am going to tell you everything.'"
In December, hints about the plot were auctioned off at a charity fundraiser sold for £28,000.

The UK version sells with two different cover versions, one for children and one for adults. The adult copy "features a somber black and white picture of a phoenix, while the children's version of the boy wizard book is illustrated with a more vibrant red and orange bird rising from flames." However, in the US the publisher will be Scholastic Children's Books and will likely use a different cover.

You can listen to an audio excerpt at http://real.amazon.central.speedera.net/ramgen/real.amazon.central/mp3/HarryPotter/HP5excerpt.mp3

Facts taken from