The fastest-selling products in history

a close up of a book

“Red Dead Redemption 2”

Have you ever lined up around the block for something you really, really wanted? Sales crazes are nothing new, but in recent years, they’ve been turned into media events, and a few records have been broken even during the COVID-19 pandemic, during which many physical stores are closed. Here are the fastest-selling products in history.


“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”

The final book in the Harry Potter series was sure to be a blockbuster. The book sold 11 million copies on its first day alone, making it the fastest-selling book in history, a record that has yet to be beat. The previous book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, was no slouch either, and sold 6.9 million copies in its first day.

a close up of a book shelf

“Fifty Shades of Grey”

Fifty Shades of Grey, the famous novel that appeared on bookshelves everywhere at the dawn of the 2010s, was the fastest adult novel to sell 1 million copies in paperback, beating Dan Brown’s blockbuster The Da Vinci Code as the previous record-holder, by crossing the 1-million mark in its 11th week of release.

food, microsoft, the fastest-selling products in history

PlayStation 5

In November 2020, Sony released the fifth iteration of its PlayStation gaming console, and it became the most successful one yet. The PlayStation 5 shipped 3.4 million units in its first four weeks, selling out in many retailers and being posted for resale at extravagant prices.

food, microsoft, the fastest-selling products in history

“Grand Theft Auto V”

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the title for highest-selling game over a 24-hour period belongs to Grand Theft Auto V, with 11.2 million copies. Take-Two Interactive, the game’s maker does not disclose unit sales figures, but did confirm that the game earned them US$800 million in 24 hours.

a hand holding a remote control

“Animal Crossing: New Horizons”

Early on in the COVID-19 pandemic, Nintendo Switch users decided to pass the time by enjoying the latest iteration in the Animal Crossing franchise. Animal Crossing: New Horizons was released on March 20, 2020, just nine days after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, and it sold 13 million copies in its first six weeks.

food, microsoft, the fastest-selling products in history

“Avengers: Endgame”

The fourth instalment of Marvel’s Avengers franchise is the fastest-selling movie of all time. It earned over US$357 million worldwide during its first three days in release in 2019, toppling the US$258-million opening weekend record set by, you guessed it, Avengers: Infinity War, the previous film in the franchise.

a group of people posing for the camera

“Map of the Soul: 7” by BTS

Korean pop group BTS is a bona fide global sensation, and their 2020 album Map of the Soul: 7 became their biggest hit yet, with over 4 million pre-orders. When the album was finally released, it became the best-selling album of the year within a matter of hours, selling over 2 million copies in South Korea alone within two hours.

Adele with dark hair

“25” by Adele

British singer and songwriter Adele released her smash-hit album 25 in 2015, breaking several records in the process. Propelled by the single “Hello,” her third album sold 3.38 million copies in its first week in the U.S., smashing the previous record of 2.42 million held by *NSYNC’s No Strings Attached.

a person sitting in front of a building

“The Marshall Mathers LP” by Eminem

Compared to other best-selling musicians, rapper Eminem was a magnet for controversy early on in his career, making it all the more impressive that The Marshall Mathers LP, his third album, became the fastest-selling hip-hop album of all time, selling 1.76 million copies in its first week of release, way back in 2000.

a car parked on the side of a building

Tesla Model 3

When Tesla opened up reservations for its highly-anticipated Model 3, it racked up 180,000 pre-orders within 24 hours, which Elon Musk calculated as being worth about US$7.5 billion. With a lower price tag than its previous models, the Model 3 was meant to make electric cars mainstream, and it has since become the best-selling electric car on the market.

Michael Jackson standing in front of a car

Michael Jackson at the O2 Arena

When pop star Michael Jackson announced a 50-night residency at London’s O2 Arena, over a million tickets for 50 separate concerts sold out within a matter of hours. While the residency was scheduled to begin in July of 2009, Jackson’s death on June 25 of that year meant that those concerts never took place.

a person holding a remote control

iPhone 6s

In 2014, the iPhone 6s broke Apple’s own records for pre-sales, by selling over 4 million units in 24 hours. Each new model of the iPhone broke the records set by the previous one until that point, but Apple stopped commenting on first-day sales when the subsequent iPhone 7 was released in 2016.

a hand holding a cellphone

“PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds”

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds sold a whopping 30 million units (about US$900 million in revenue) in its first hour of release, but that sales record comes with a major caveat. Although its official release date was December 2017, the popular “battle royale” game was available via Steam from March 2017, giving it several months to rack up those numbers.

food, microsoft, the fastest-selling products in history


The Kinect, a motion sensor device used with Microsoft’s Xbox 360, sold 8 million units in its first 60 days on the market. These sales made the Kinect the fastest-selling electronic device in history, and at US$150 a pop, Microsoft took home approximately US$1.2 billion in that period.

a young boy wearing a suit and tie

“Detective Chinatown 3”

Hollywood dominates lists of the highest- and fastest-selling films of all time, but China’s film industry has grown exponentially in recent decades. After a year-long delay, Detective Chinatown 3 earned a massive US$163 million in China alone on its first day in cinemas, all while many global markets were still sluggish due to COVID-19 restrictions.

a close up of a book

“Red Dead Redemption 2”

On its first weekend in the marketplace in 2018, the blockbuster survival video game Red Dead Redemption 2 sold US$725 million worth of units, which works out to over 10 million games overall. This made it the fastest-selling game of the PlayStation 4/Xbox One generation, and second overall in games only to Grand Theft Auto V.

John F. Kennedy wearing a suit and tie smiling at the camera

“John Fitzgerald Kennedy: A Memorial Album”

In the wake of President John F. Kennedy’s death, the American people mourned with the aid of a memorial album, which sold 4 million copies in only six days. The album cost 99 cents; it contained several of the president’s recorded speeches and proceeds were donated to the Joseph Kennedy Jr. Foundation for Mental Retardation.

a person wearing a costume

“Cyberpunk 2077”

The long-in-development Cyberpunk 2077 was finally released in December 2020 after frequent delays. The buildup for the game was intense, and it eventually sold 4.72 million pre-orders, making it the fastest-selling PC game in history. The release was marred by problems, however, and the game was removed from the PlayStation store shortly after launching.

a large passenger jet sitting on top of a runway

Boeing 737 MAX

When it launched the 737 MAX in 2011, Boeing earned 948 commitments during its launch, including 150 from Southwest Airlines. The Southwest order was Boeing’s biggest single order of aircraft ever, and the 737 MAX proved to be successful right out of the gate. Unfortunately, the 737 MAX had flaws that led to two fatal crashes and a scandal at the company in 2019.

Lady Gaga wearing a wedding dress

Lady Gaga Fame

In 2012, Lady Gaga followed in the footsteps of Madonna, Britney Spears and Beyoncé by releasing her own perfume, titled Fame. According to the singer herself, the perfume sold 6 million bottles in one week, making it one of the fastest-selling perfumes of all time, second only to Coco Chanel.

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