Thursday, July 19, 2007

The New York Times posts spoilers on new Harry Potter book; Letters pour in (including from J.K. Rowling) in protest

All of us at the Cafe have donated our copies of the New York Times to the International Puppy Potty Training League and we encourage you to do the same thing. Shame on the New York Times, but then that's the paper that banned Harry Potter from the Best Seller List (creating a special "children's list" which is ridiculous since adults read the series) because the books hogged all the top spots so no other books could advertise they were #1 on the New York Times Best Seller list. Well, guess what - it looks like Delores Umbridge left the Ministry of Magic and has gone to work at the New York Times. We hope that fans of the books who are the staff at NYT take that editor who authorized the spoiler-review up to the Astronomy Tower for a little chat.

Here's what J.K. Rowling said today:

I am staggered that American newspapers have decided to publish purported spoilers in the form of reviews in complete disregard of the wishes of literally millions of readers, particularly children, who wanted to reach Harry’s final destination by themselves, in their own time.

We're not the only one mad.

The wonderful folks at the The Leaky Cauldron have organized a letter-writing campaign and we here at the Cafe join them. Leaky writes:

If you would like to express your disappointment to the newspaper, do so at In fact, if you would like a letter to copy and paste, or use to work from and add your own sentiments, please feel free to use the below. We’ve just sent ours off, and hope you will do the same.

They go on to offer a draft letter:

To whom it may concern:

I am writing to express my disappointment that your publication printed an early review and details of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. This goes against the express wishes of the author and anyone that calls themselves a true Harry Potter fan.

It is hard enough for a Harry Potter fan to avoid spoilers on the Internet and news stations now that the book appears to have leaked; now we have to avoid trusted outlets as well. You’ve not only disappointed millions of children around the world with your actions, you have disappointed the millions of adults who look to the New York Times to be a bastion of good taste and standards. When the New York Times succumbs to such tabloid tactics, who won’t?

Many ask why we care – why fans aren’t all so rabid to get the book that we’ll sop up any illegal download or purchase. There’s one simple answer: We respect the author. We thought that a newspaper like yours, where so many of your reporters become authors themselves, would understand and respect that. We’re so saddened that we were wrong. We feel let down by you and your editorial board.


Your name here
Harry Potter Fan, and member of Jo’s Army

And they are still not the only ones mad:
Bloomsbury Publishing, originating publisher of Harry Potter, was extremely dismayed to learn last night about early sales in America of a small number of copies of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows prior to the UK, US and worldwide embargo time agreed with retailers, suppliers, and all third parties involved of 00.01AM British Summer Time on Saturday July 21st 2007.

We are aware of some speculation in the media that internet “spoilers” purporting to be extracts from the book have come from the few early copies sold. We confirm that this is not true as is clear from the press release of July 18th issued by Scholastic Inc, the US publisher of Harry Potter. The “spoilers” remain unauthenticated.

The release date and time embargo of 00.01AM BST on Saturday July 21st is being enforced unflinchingly and without exception by the publishers. We confirm that all Bloomsbury’s customers in 93 countries worldwide are robustly supporting this embargo time to ensure secrecy for the children and adult readers of Harry Potter.

We would like to thank our customers and suppliers again for their full support given in so many different ways. We would also like to thank the worldwide media for their own observance of, and strict policing of, the embargo to preserve the secrecy of the plot for the readers of Harry Potter.

JK Rowling said at 1pm today, ‘I am staggered that American newspapers have decided to publish purported spoilers in the form of reviews in complete disregard of the wishes of literally millions of readers, particularly children, who wanted to reach Harry’s final destination by themselves, in their own time. I am incredibly grateful to all those newspapers, booksellers and others who have chosen not to attempt to spoil Harry’s last adventure for fans.’


Kevin said...

The must be something about NYC -- that's pretty arrogant!

I'm dyslexic so do not own a copy to donate to puppy training or in the bird cage, nor will I be obtaining a copy of the book, but even I know that a low thing to do.

A movie critic in not supposed to give out spoilers (especially if they desire to be invited to the next critics preview). It's a part of the game, I know there are some who have posted obtained copies on the Internet, but NYT is supposed to be reputable.

A shame, good thing most kids don't read the NYT so can actually enjoy the excitement of 'exploring' with their friends.

Unknown said...

Ah, but we suspect that there are now more adults than children reading the series - especially with books six and now seven. The book may start out in the hands of the child - but we have seen too many adults with their heads bowed deed into the books while riding the Metro or the choo choo ...


Kevin said...

Yes, but it's more of a 'crime' for the NYT to steal the innocent joys in spoiling for kids.

Though maybe an equal shame to steal for the young at heart. :-)

Anonymous said...

What is this Harry Potter stuff? Is it widely distributed?

writekathy said...

I went to the NYT website. I didn't read the review. I went no further than taking a look at who wrote it. Michiko Kakutani has a reputation among wriers as being the Delores Umbridge of reviewers. In graduate school, our professors warned us about Kakutani, and how spiteful the reviews can be.
Once again the NYT has underestimated and misjudged its readership.

Unknown said...

I love the folks who drop in to the cafe and post stuff. All of you here who have posted here - Kevin, Art, writekathy - and all the anons - I just appreciate you all so much! It's wonderful to have an opportunity to smile as well as consider deeply the themes of life. Art - you are just too much. Kevin - you are just shining with your posts - thank you!!! And writekathy - I am so glad you have come and found a regular table here at the cafe. I'm enjoying your posts and really challenged by them. Thank you for your comment here about the reviewer. I have not looked at it - I really am trying to stay in the dark and not read spoilers. The only websites I'll visit is Mugglenet and Leaky until I have finished the book. But that is very interesting insights that you bring here about the reviewer - very interesting. Thank you!!


Alice C. Linsley said...

I stopped taking and reading the New York Times years ago because of the haughty attitude of the editorial staff. I receive the Christian Science Monitor instead and it does a far better job reporting the news.

Anonymous said...

Hey will you still visit T19? I promise we aren't publishing any spoilers!! LOL!

This is really beyond belief from the NYT. Given that I probably won't get a copy of HP7 here in my undisclosed location until late August, I'm going to have to work REALLY hard to not hear the news of how the series ends. It's gonna be a VERY long month...!


Chip Johnson+, SF, CoJ said...

Just exactly how far uptown from 815 2nd Avenue is the Times office? The old Chattanooga Times was once a part of the Adolph Ochs empire and was a proud subscriber and reader for ove 40 years...but alas, it got sold and the editorial staff went to pot in a hurry...seems that the once proud and mighty NYT, has gone the way of that bastion of journalism, published in south Florida, the criically acclaimed, Inquirer (you know, for those inquiring minds who want to know). Humbug!