Michael Jackson's death has led to skyrocketing sales of his music and videos, with major retailers like Amazon.com Inc. and Barnes and Noble Inc. selling out of products that have regained immense popularity overnight.
Bill Carr, Amazon's vice president of 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 '60s.
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.
As of Friday afternoon, Jackson's albums accounted for all 10 of Amazon's "Bestsellers in Music" list, with the 25th anniversary edition of the celebrated "Thriller" album taking the top spot.
Meanwhile, Barnes and Noble's Web site and retail stores are currently sold out of most Jackson CDs, DVDs and books, Chief Merchandising Officer Jaime Carey said. Like Amazon, its 10 bestselling CDs were Jackson titles.
Both companies said they were working to get the products back in stock.
Apple Inc. would not describe the level of demand for Jackson's music at its iTunes online store, but his dominance of iTunes' top-seller lists Friday speaks for itself.
Around the time of Jackson's death, only one of his albums ranked in the top 100 on iTunes in the United States. By Friday morning, eight of the top 10 albums were Jackson's. An "Essential" collection of Jackson's songs compiled by Apple's iTunes music team 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.
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 currently out of stock.
Carr said it was difficult to say whether the increased sales would persist, saying Amazon for now was taking things "minute by minute" and reacting to customers' orders.
"They love him, he's a legend, and they're anxious to make sure they have his music in their collections," he said.