NEW YORK — Michael Jackson's death has led to skyrocketing sales of his music and videos, with major retailers selling out of products that have regained immense popularity overnight.
Bill Carr, Amazon.com Inc.'s vice president for music and video, said Friday that once the world learned that the pop icon had died Thursday, the Web site sold out within minutes all CDs by Michael Jackson and by the Jackson 5 — the group Jackson and his four older brothers formed out of Gary, Ind., in the late 1960s.
Jackson's albums accounted for all 10 of Amazon's "Bestsellers in Music" list Friday, with the 25th anniversary edition of the celebrated "Thriller" album taking the top spot.
Barnes and Noble Inc.'s Web site and retail stores also sold out most Jackson CDs, DVDs and books, and its 10 bestselling CDs were Jackson titles as well. Borders Group Inc.'s Web site sold out almost everything related to the star; albums also sold out at some retail locations.
"We saw something similar when (Luciano) Pavarotti and (Frank) Sinatra passed, but from the initial read on this it seems to be a faster rush," Borders spokeswoman Mary Davis said. "People seem to be shocked by the news and want to go out and rediscover his music."
At a Borders in midtown Manhattan, Chris Barnes, 37, came in during his lunch break Friday and was disappointed he couldn't get a compilation of the star's number-one videos — something he had seen on the shelf just a few days earlier.
"He was an icon. I grew up on 'Off The Wall' and all that," Barnes said, listening to Jackson's "Rock With You" on his iPod as he spoke.
Apple Inc. would not describe the level of demand for Jackson's music at its online iTunes Store, but his dominance of iTunes' top-seller lists Friday speaks for itself.
Before word of Jackson's hospitalization, none of his albums were in iTunes' list of top sellers. After the news broke, "Thriller" quickly cracked the iTunes top 100; within hours, it reached No. 1. By Friday afternoon, nine of the top 10 albums were Jackson's. "The Essential Michael Jackson" song collection was the top-selling album, followed by "Thriller."
Five of Jackson's singles made it to iTunes' list of most-purchased tracks — "Man in the Mirror," "Thriller," "The Way You Make Me Feel," "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough," and "Smooth Criminal" — in what may be one of the best barometers to gauge his most popular songs.
Borders, Barnes and Noble and Amazon all were working on restocking their stores.
Sixty percent of Amazon's CD orders Thursday were for Michael Jackson music, something Carr called "stunning." He said he'd "never seen anything like this" before at Amazon after the death of a pop culture icon.
With Amazon sold out of Jackson CDs, Carr said, many customers were buying Jackson's music in digital form. Sales of Jackson-related videos are also up on Amazon — Carr said most DVDs, including the 1978 movie musical "The Wiz," are out of stock.
He said it was difficult to say if increased sales would persist and that Amazon was taking things "minute by minute."
The Web site for Britain's largest music seller, HMV Group, saw an unprecedented amount of downloads of Jackson's music after his death.
At HMV stores, sales rose about 20-fold, though they had stocked up on albums in advance of concerts that were to begin next month, HMV spokesman Gennaro Castaldo said. Jackson, 50, had been prepping for a 50-show engagement at London's O2 Arena.