Saturday, July 21, 2007

Not Before 8:01 am

At around 4:15 pm this afternoon, the delivery folks arrived with the new Harry Potter novel from Amazon Japan. Since we live in the future, we get a head start on the U.S. It's legal for us to have them now.

If you look closely at the sticker on the box, it says that the box cannot be delivered before 8:01 am on July 21. I imagine that means these parcels were idling somewhere waiting for the magical day (no pun intended, trust me) to arrive.

All of this concern over something as trivial as a novel about a boy wizard getting out a little early strikes me as beyond absurd. It strikes me as doubly so when I listen to the book's author bellyaching about how true fans who really, really love the Potterverse will show their faith and wait like good little girls and boys for the officially-sanctioned delivery date before peaking inside the covers. The sense of self-importance behind any author who attaches so much meaning to her work that she gets worked up about it getting out a few days early boggles the mind, particularly when that author isn't the bee's knee's of great authors.

All of this hoopla will be a curious memory after today. Personally, my desire to actually read the book has been considerably dampened by the presence of that ridiculous sticker on the box treating the package as it it were precious and important enough not to be let out too soon. I'm going to read it but not for awhile yet. I think when something which is merely a distraction from life takes on such importance, it's time to re-evaluate priorities.


Sean P. Aune said...

I couldn't agree more, Shari. JK's bellyaching about spoilers and leaks has really turned me off from her and this book.

It's a children's book (supposedly), not the second coming.

(and don't be surprised when I do a similar post... I was already planning it :-p)

Shari said...

Considering that I'm a half day ahead of you, it's not too surprising I'd "get there first". ;-)

However, I think this is a sentiment that really deserves to be echoed. Maybe it'll help people get a grip.

Helen said...

I'm afraid that I have to disagree with you today. I was late to the whole Harry Potter saga, but once I started I was in love!

JK Rowling has almost single-handedly made reading for children cool again. She's provided a story that has made children put down their game boys and pick up books. Why doesn't she have the right to ask people not to give the ending away? Most children may take a little longer to read it than us adults, so asking people not to read it early or spoil it for them, is certainly within her rights I think.

I don't want to have the surprises "spoiled". I don't care too much if other people know before I do, but someone always blabs and ruins things. I've been reading Harry Potter for 7 or so years now, and by gum, I don't want someone to casually tell me "Oh, so-and-so dies in this one."

I want to read it for myself. I still haven't told my husband who dies in number 6 in case he decides to read it, or see the movie (when it's made).

So, if you read your copy faster than I read mine, please don't spoil it for me (or any other rabid fan out there!)

lostinube said...

I picked mine up today at the local bookstore. No lines or anything like that. Yay! Of course I had to pay a bunch for it but oh well. I think I should have taken a picture of the display with several copies and nobody even looking at them.

Shari said...

Helen: Feel free to disagree. :-)

My post wasn't about an author not having the right not to have her work spoiled but about the obsessive desire to keep it under wraps until the clock struck 8:01 am on July 21, 2007 such that delivery companies are sitting on the books. It's not a top secret document. It's a novel. Getting all worked up because someone has it a day or two before the "official release" date is bad enough as it's just not that important in the scheme of things that it be held back until a random day and time click over.

However, Rowling is absolutely the last author who should wad up her undies over spoilage as she spoils her own books all the time! In fact, she's spoiled every book for me from 5-7 by running her big yap about the contents of them, particularly in regards to announcing deaths. What is worse than that is that she has been guilty of protesting too much on the development of some characters such that she tipped her hand as to their ultimate disposition years before the last book was released.

In general, she's guilty of being the worst spoiler of all and she's done so to manipulate the media and the readers to drum up just the sort of excitement that gets people to photograph the pages of her book as soon as they get their hands on it and post the pictures on the web. If she really wants to keep it under wraps, she should be the first to keep her mouth shut.

It's just a series of books and she's the only author I know of who has done so much public hand wringing about the precise time of release. You didn't hear about Stephen King making sure books didn't ship to shops or readers early when he released the last of the Dark Tower books even though there were plenty of people who were dying for that last book and he's an equally famous writer (and a better one at that). She's drunk on her own fame and power.

If you don't want a mild spoiler, you'll want to avoid this last bit of commenting.

***Spoiler Space***

My feeling is that she doesn't want people to read the book in a staggered fashion (because it is available in some areas before others) because she's afraid sales will go down when they find out how obviously she ripped off the basic story structure of Lord of the Rings. It's an incredibly disappointing ending story-wise to see that she had nothing better to do except to recast the fellowship and Sauron's ring as Ron, Hermione and Harry and a locket.

LostinUbe: You should have taken that picture! It would have been very ironic.

Miko said...

I have a confession: I never cottoned on to the Harry love, although I was impressed with a couple of the movies. I read the first book, and found it trite and derivative.

For a really great series, try Susan Cooper's "The Dark is Rising." Vastly superior in every way, and you'll also see where Rowling got more than a few of her ideas.

Sade said...

Hello, Shari!

I found your blog a little while back, but decided to read everything from the beginning and I've finally caught up. So now I start the commenting!

I'm one of the Harry Potter fans who gobbles up the book as soon as they get I did today. I enjoyed it, as I do many things because I'm quite easy to please. So, unless something is absolutely terrible, I'll probably like it. :P

I read about the spoilers popping up on the internet on your site before the book had come out yet, but I didn't really mind them that much. Although I love the series, I agree with you in that they are just books and I knew I was going to get my book eventually anyway (even though I would have disliked it a tad if someone had blabbed the secrets to me). I had it delivered and it came at about 8:16am and since I wasn't expecting it that early, I was still asleep. But my stepfather woke me up for it and soon after I started reading. So, the same time restrictions were probably in place here too. My friend's copy, however, didn't arrive at her house until noon, which I thought was kind of weird although I apart of me was glad I had an almost four hour headstart :P