By Stephen M. Silverman
June 25, 2003 02:44 PM

Harry Potter just gets bigger and bigger.

Scholastic, Inc., the American publisher of J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” (and its four predecessors), has gone back to press and plans to place another 800,000 copies on the market, reports the Associated Press.

That will bring the current print run to 9.3 million.

“We are thrilled with the phenomenal sales of ‘Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,'” Barbara Marcus, president of Scholastic’s children’s division, said in a statement Tuesday.

Apparently retail bookstores could not keep up with the initial demand for the title, which had a staggering initial print run of 8.5 million. Marcus could only promise that the additional books would be delivered over “the next few weeks.”

In 2000, “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” was released and sold 11.5 million copies in hardcover, according to Scholastic spokeswomen Judy Corman.

Initially, there was some skepticism about the huge press run for “Order of the Phoenix.” The Wall Street Journal quoted publishing experts who questioned whether this new “Harry” would catch on — given that its younger readers might have graduated to video games or something else in the three long years it took Rowling to finish this installment.

That skepticism now appears to be unfounded. And reviews have been exceptionally favorable.

The New York Times, in a rare front-page review, touted the author’s “bravura storytelling skills and tirelessly inventive imagination,” and noted that Harry has lost some of his childhood innocence, giving the tale more edge.

Harry, now 15, is “a richer and more psychologically complex character than ever before,” the Los Angeles Times said in its review.

On Saturday alone, Barnes & Noble, Borders Group and other stores reported record sales, having moved an estimated 5 million copies of “Order of the Phoenix.”

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Random House Inc., the publisher of the 26-hour, 30-minute audio version of “Order of the Phoenix” (on cassettes and CDs), announced that more than 135,000 copies had already been sold, more than most books in that format sell in a year.