Harry Potter Mania

Yes, mania. According to the Beeb, not only did the Daily News violate the strictest of literary embargoes by running a story that contained “excerpts and details” about the imminent fifth volume in the series, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, but a Canadian woman (identified only as “Melissa”) was apparently able to purchase a copy of the book at a local Wal-Mart after the store mistakenly put the book on its shelves several days early.

Fortunately for we poor consumers, the Daily News has been slapped with a lawsuit, and, as the article reports, “Wal-Mart has launched an investigation as to how the books ended up on display.”

The good folks at Scholastic, for their part, are at great pains to explain the altruistic reasons for the embargo, the lawsuit, the investigations, the prosecutions, and so on. As reported by the Daily News itself, ” ‘The book was embargoed [until 12:01 a.m. Saturday] so all kids would have it at the same time, and not to spoil it for the kids,’ Scholastic spokeswoman Judy Corman said.” And in the BBC story, “A Scholastic spokesman said the company hoped ‘this unfortunate situation will not spoil the surprise for millions of children around the country who have been eagerly awaiting the book.’ ”

Of course, none of this would have anything to do with hype, would it?

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