Real Harry Potter Nail-Biter: Not Spoiling the Ending Before the Release

Fans of the Harry Potter series must wish they could use the impediment curse.

As the hours tick down to the release of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," fans' enjoyment of the final book has been thwarted by Internet leaks, religious law and, in one case, a bathroom spoiler.

The Potter faithful will finally get their hands on the last installment of the magician's saga at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, when Potter author J.K. Rowling will read aloud from "Deathly Hallows" at the Natural History Museum in London.

But fans — who've awaited the release of this last Harry story for two years — have had to contend with Internet leaks that show conflicting endings to the book. Rowling has indicated that two characters die in the new tome, leading to speculation that one of them might be Harry himself.

That led one staffer to near despondency Wednesday, when he was told in the men's room that Harry Potter definitely does not die in the final book.

Click here to read about the controversy surrounding the ending.

Publisher Scholastic Inc. has been mum on whether these unauthorized Web postings of page scans — numbering in the double digits — were the real thing.

"There's so much out there that it's confusing for fans," said Kyle Good, a Scholastic spokeswoman. "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."

Security, by all accounts, has been tight. Publishers Weekly reported that workers at a printing facility in Indiana were subjected to lunchbox searches and a cell-phone ban during the time they printed the last installment.

Satellite tracking devices have been used on trucks in Britain and pallets of books have been rigged with alarms, News Corp. Australia reported.

Contractual obligations with booksellers will ensure fans get the book on time at 12:01 a.m. Saturday ... except in Israel. Fans of the British wizard there have had to contend with yet another hurdle — religious law.

The release of the book falls on the Jewish Sabbath, and under Israeli law, that means most businesses have to close. Many bookstores have opted to stay open instead, drawing fire from Orthodox Jewish lawmakers.

"Israeli law forbids businesses to force their employees to work on the Sabbath, and that applies in this case as well. The minister will fine and prosecute any businesses which violate the law," said Roei Lachmanovich, a spokesman for Yishai, of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish Shas party.

Avraham Ravitz of the United Torah Judaism Party slammed the Potter books for their "defective messages."

"We don't have to be dragged like monkeys after the world with this subculture, and certainly not while violating our holy Sabbath," Ravitz said in a statement.

Israel's largest bookseller, Steimatzky, will hold a gala event in Tel Aviv beginning Friday night to launch the book, and the company has no plans to change the time, according to spokeswoman Alona Zamir.

"We're required by our agreement with the book's publisher to launch the book at the same time as everywhere else in the world," Zamir said.

And fans seem to be the ones doing the detective work to stop the Potter piracy before Saturday's launch.

"A lot of our tips about spoilers are coming from fans," Good says. "There's a groundswell from fans who find these links and send them to us, saying, 'I'm not going to look at this, but somebody told me about it.'"

"I just hope they find these people and punish them accordingly," said Leaky Cauldron Web master Melissa Anelli. "This is exceedingly wrong and mean-spirited. Let people enjoy their book, for Pete's sake."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.