Major Upset Over Possible Leak of Final 'Harry Potter' Book

This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," July 18, 2007, that has been edited for clarity.

JOHN GIBSON, "BIG STORY" HOST: The "Big Scandal": The heroine of "The Devil Wears Prada" was sent to do the impossible: get the newest "Harry Potter" book before it is released. She succeeded, and some Internet pirates may have succeeded in real life as well.

The seventh and final "Potter" book, "The Deathly Hallows," was supposed to be released this Saturday, but it is already allegedly out on the Web. Now Potter's peeved publisher — try that three times — is taking action. "Big Story" correspondent Douglas Kennedy has the late reaction from Scholastic.

DOUGLAS KENNEDY, "BIG STORY" CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, John, Scholastic acknowledges copies of book were sent out early by accident. They are now asking anyone who received one to keep it to themselves. But at this point, it's probably too late.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a storm coming, Harry. Just like last time.

KENNEDY (VOICE-OVER): Harry Potter is use to stopping goons from destroying the world. "Potter" publisher has failed to stop some Internet mischief-makers from distributing what appears to be copies of the seventh installment of the wildly successful series.

DAVID MEHEGAN, BOSTON GLOBE: It seems as if someone out there has gotten a per line copy and had made photographs with some sort of a little camera, all the pages and has posted them on the Internet.

KENNEDY: "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" is billed as the last in J.K. Rowling's blockbuster bookology and is supposed to reveal the fate of the magnificent magician and his Hogwarts cohorts and is scheduled to go on sale Saturday at 12:01 a.m. But copies of the book's pages started appearing on Web pages late yesterday.

MEHEGAN: It's photographs of the pages. Although we know there are those who are trying to now retype what they see on the pages in order to have a text.

KENNEDY: In fact, all 784 pages appear on at least two different Web sites and this appears to be the final page of the book, which we are purposely shooting from a distance so as not to spoil any secrets.

So this is a real embarrassment for the publisher, Scholastic. They really guard the contents of these books very seriously?

SARA NELSON, PUBLISHER'S WEEKLY: Well, yeah, I think it is an embarrassment, but when you make such a fuss about how much secrecy you're going to hold this book in, you're inviting people to try to break the embargo.

KENNEDY: In a statement released this afternoon, the publisher acknowledged that copies of the novel had indeed been sent out. "Scholastic has recently learned that some have received copies of 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows' threw the mail, beginning on Tuesday, July 17..."

The statement pointed the finger at book distributor, Levy Home Entertainment, and the Web site and says it is beginning legal action against both companies.

Sara Nelson is editor in chief of Publisher's Weekly and has followed the "Potter" phenomenon for years. So will this help or hurt the book sales?

NELSON: I don't think it's going to affect the book sales one war or another. I think whether people can get it today in certain places instead of on Saturday, you know, the mania is already there.


KENNEDY: Still, Nelson acknowledges it is creating more buzz, which she says in the publishing world is almost always helpful. But still, John, a very embarrassing situation for Scholastic.

GIBSON: Well, look, we all receive early copies of a gazillion books and nobody cares. Are we sure that what you see on the Internet is the book?

KENNEDY: You know, as I said, Scholastic acknowledges that books were sent out and there is a book on the Internet that has the exact same number of pages and just typeset and looks like the book, but are we exactly sure that's the one? No, we're not.

GIBSON: OK, now, people get these books, is somebody in trouble for letting it out?

KENNEDY: There is a lawsuit that Scholastic has announced against the two book distributors which they say should not ever have sent these out early.

GIBSON: Douglas Kennedy, thank you.

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