Harry Potter spoilers spread story on Internet
Published Wednesday, July 18, 2007 8:14PM EDT
Harry Potter fans who are desperate to avoid learning leaked details of the latest literary instalment by J.K. Rowling should avoid reading certain newspapers today and should probably stay off the Internet entirely.
In Canada, both the Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail published alleged plot details of the final book documenting the adventures of the young wizard and his band of friends.
The book, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," is set to be officially released on Saturday.
But it appears as though much of the book has been released online in a series of photographs of pages of what appears to be a bound copy of the new book.
Drawing from the material posted on the Internet, the Star even reported the names of two characters that allegedly die in the final book.
And Globe ran a review that is apparently based on leaked details of the book -- said to be one of the most closely guarded secrets in contemporary literature.
In the U.K., the books are reportedly going to be delivered to stores in crates bound with chains, only to be opened Saturday when the embargo ends. They will even be fitted with GPS technology so the trucks delivering the books can be tracked every kilometre of the journey, The Canadian Press reports.
Doubt has been cast on the authenticity of the leaked copies, however, because several different versions have surfaced online.
Kris Abel, CTV's technology expert, said there is no way of verifying the legitimacy of any of the versions online, but the one comprised of hundreds of digital photos seems to be the most likely to be authentic.
"What is drawing out the headlines is one particular version of the book that's available on the Internet that seems to be very convincing, that if it's a hoax, it's an elaborate hoax," Abel told CTV Newsnet.
"It consists of a collection of 397 digital photographs that are taken of a physical, paper-bound book, that someone has managed to get their hands on and in a brief period take photographs of each and every picture and upload that on line."
Abel said some of the photos are slightly out of focus and are difficult to read, but much of the book is legible from the images.
And the photos themselves tell a story apart from Potter's adventure.
"This is the amazing thing. Whoever managed to make these files did it in such a rush they didn't hide any of the information embedded in the files themselves," Abel said.
It's evident, for instance, that a Canon EOS Digital Rebel SLR camera was used, and that the photographer began taking pictures at about 8:39 p.m. on July 15, and continued until after midnight.
The hands of the photographer are also visible, and appear to belong to a young person, most likely a male teenager, Abel said.
"It's a fun little game in itself," Abel said. "You can see that there is an empty Coca-Cola can on one side. You can take a look at the picture of his sleeve. I think that those who are going to be trying to hunt down the leak are going to have a lot of information to find this person."
How to avoid having surprise ruined?
Although the 397-picture posting is garnering the most attention, Abel warned that numerous spoilers are attempting to ruin the surprise for fans by revealing secrets online. And the only sure way to avoid having the surprise ruined is to avoid the Internet completely, Abel said.
In the U.S., publisher Scholastic, Inc., has been ordering would-be spoilers to remove their information from the Web.
"I'm guessing we're in the double digits," Scholastic spokeswoman Kyle Good told The Associated Press.
She added that just because the publisher orders information removed from the Internet, it doesn't mean it's legit.
"There's so much out there that it's confusing for fans. Our lawyers are trying to keep down the amount of spoiler traffic that's out there and clear it from places where fans might be reading," Good said.
Scholastic has refused to affirm whether any of the versions are real. Good said there is more than one version of the full Potter text on the Internet and the different versions all "looked convincing" and all had different content from each other.
Raincoast, the Canadian publisher of the book, says plot rumours have inevitably surfaced in the weeks leading up to the release of each of the Harry Potter instalments, and this time is no different.
Meanwhile, the Canadian publisher is urging anyone who may spoil the secret for others to keep it to themselves.
"Just try and remember that there are literally millions of fans around the world who want to share this secret with the author together. ... We are almost there, we would just ask people to be patient," Jamie Broadhurst of Raincoast Books told CTV News.
The only way fans can determine the real ending, the publisher says, is by reading the book when it is released at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday.
With a report from CTV's John Vennavally-Rao