J.K. Rowling book fastest seller of year

Proceeds go to Children's High Level Group

LONDON -- British author J.K. Rowling's new charity book has become the fastest-selling title of the year, with more than 2.6 million copies sold worldwide in less than two weeks.

Since it was released on Dec. 4, "The Tales of Beedle the Bard" has also become the top selling book of 2008 on both sides of the Atlantic, topping the USA Today and Daily Telegraph charts and raising 4.2 million pounds ($6.5 million) for charity.

Proceeds from sales of the book, which has a global print run of 8 million copies, will go to the Children's High Level Group, a charity for vulnerable children in Eastern Europe co-founded by Rowling.

"We had no idea what to expect in terms of sales figures so we are thrilled by such impressive sales in the first week alone ... the project will certainly raise a huge amount to fund our work," CHLG chief executive Richard Alderslade said.

Beedle the Bard is a collection of five fairy tales and is mentioned in the final Potter book "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" as having been left to the boy wizard's friend Hermione by Albus Dumbledore, headmaster of Hogwarts school.

In 2007, Deathly Hallows became the fastest-selling book ever, with U.S. sales during the first 24 hours reaching around 8.3 million copies.

Between them the Harry Potter books have sold over 400 million copies worldwide and have been translated into 67 languages.

Rowling, who has become the world's wealthiest writer, originally hand-wrote and illustrated seven copies of Beedle the Bard, six of which she gave away as gifts and one which she sold at auction in 2007, fetching $4 million for the charity.