pageok
pageok
pageok
She Says That as If It's a Bad Thing:

From a Reuters article about the Harry Potter publisher's reaction to book reviews published before the book officially went on sale:

A Bloomsbury spokeswoman called the New York Times review "very sad", adding that there was only one day to wait until the official release in book stores around the world. Twelve million copies of the book have been printed for the U.S. market alone.

She likened the events in the United States to the Boston Tea Party, a 1773 protest by American colonists against Britain....

Tip: That doesn't sound as pejorative on our side of the pond as it might on yours.

In any case, here's the Times' substantive response:

"Our feeling is that once a book is offered up for sale at any public, retail outlet, and we purchase a copy legally and openly, we are free to review it," a [New York Times] spokeswoman said.

"We came across a copy of 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows' at a store in New York City and we bought it...."

llamasex (mail) (www):
I just finished the book today during my lunch hour. If I can read it I would think the NYT should have a review out. The I-Phone was reviewed before it came out. It seems like the norm for the media to get a hold of something for review before the masses do.
7.20.2007 7:28pm
Public_Defender (mail):

"I am staggered that some 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,"


She's "staggered" that her book was reviewed a day early? Rowling is either way too fragile or she takes herself and her book way too seriously. It's a kids' book. A good kids' book, but just a kids' book. Plus, no one is forced to read spoilers in the NYT review.

And if reading the review is bad, the Rowling's complaint probably made things worse. Many people probably learned about the review and read it because of the publicity of Rowling's complaint.

Relax, Ms. Rowling. Millions of kids will enjoy your book, and you will make millions more dollars.
7.20.2007 7:41pm
Stating the Obvious:
If Public_Defender thinks it's a kid's book, s/he hasn't read it.
7.20.2007 7:49pm
Stating the Obvious:
If Public_Defender thinks it's a kid's book, s/he hasn't read it.
7.20.2007 7:49pm
jimbino (mail):
How can someone say, "She Says That as If It's a Bad Thing"?

In English, we say, "She says that as if it were a bad thing."

"As if" should alert the writer that a "contrary-to-fact" construction, requiring the subjunctive mood, will follow.
7.20.2007 7:57pm
Jack S. (mail) (www):
ugh. This is so un-newsworthy. Get over it and go bath in your millions made and will be made from this series. What a bunch of whiners.
7.20.2007 8:14pm
Stating the Odious:
I like Harry Potter, but if Stating the Obvious thinks that Harry Potter is NOT a kids book, he/she hasn't read many "adult" books...
7.20.2007 8:15pm
Public_Defender (mail):
If Public_Defender thinks it's a kid's book, s/he hasn't read it.
The Lord of the Rings trilogy were kids' books, too. But you can take them too seriously.

If you are "staggered" that someone reviewed a copy of Harry Potter the day before the book came out, you take it too seriously. If you don't want to see the review, don't read it.

Plus, EV was right about the whole Boston Tea Party reference. Did Rowlings really think that the analogy would be a negative thing over here? Are Britons really still smarting over it?
7.20.2007 8:22pm
Lior:
Certainly JRR Tolkien thought of The Lord of the Rings as literature for adults (unlike The Hobbit, which was written for his children).
7.20.2007 8:56pm
Gabriel Malor (mail):
Lior, I'm not sure of that. His first reader and critic during the writing of Fellowship was the 9 year old son of his editor...I think it was his editor. It was someone's son.
7.20.2007 9:03pm
Avatar (mail):
Certainly the Potter series started OUT as children's books. Since, they've become progressively... I don't know, "meaner"? More dystopian? Certainly if the events of the sixth novel had been in the first one instead, many people would have instantly concluded that the book was inappropriate for children. (Wrongly, in my opinion - but as a Japanese animation fan, my stock in trade are children's items that would be judged wildly inappropriate for children!)

That said, the only real danger of this kind of review is that some jerk will decide to hit a bookstore at midnight and scream spoilers at the top of his lungs. I'm actually somewhat surprised that I've managed to get this close to the release without having details of the ending thrust at me, for that matter. But with the early sales of a few copies of the book, there's no sense in saying that there was still value in preserving the secret - it's out there, after all.

One question - normally when a street date is "broken", other area retailers are then allowed to sell the item with no penalty. So what the heck is everyone still waiting for?
7.20.2007 9:10pm
Tagore Smith:
The Boston Tea Party might have been perfectly appropriate by our lights in 1773, but if a party of American patriots boarded a ship flying UK colors and dumped its cargo overboard tonight, we would probably not consider it quite as much a good thing.

That said, this does seem like a tempest in a teapot.
7.20.2007 9:28pm
Dave N (mail):
At the end of the day, who really cares? If you are afraid of finding out how the book ends, here's a simple suggestion: DON'T READ THE REVIEWS.

Of course, if it was discovered that President Bush was behind the leaked early copies, some of the VC readers VC would be calling for his impeachment over it.
7.20.2007 10:16pm
Guest12345:
Of course, if it was discovered that President Bush was behind the leaked early copies, some of the VC readers VC would be calling for his impeachment over it.


Well yeah, if he leaked copies he received from the publisher that would be some kind of contract violation, if he printed his own copies and leaked those that would be copyright violation. Either case shows a lack of character and integrity.
7.20.2007 10:26pm
NickM (mail) (www):
The New York Times decided this was a matter of public interest. Who are we mere mortals to challenge them?

Nick
7.21.2007 12:47am
Lior:
Gabriel: Are you sure about the 9-year-old? The reader for book IV was Christopher Tolkien, at the time (1944) stationed in South Africa with the RAF.
7.21.2007 12:56am
plunge (mail):
The point is, it's just sort of dick. Nothing actually required them to go out an review it, and they knew darn well that it was being promoted as a big midnight event for kids, where supposedly everyone around the world would get it at the same time.

Sort of like the Boston Tea Party, which basically involved a bunch of smugglers that were mad about LOWER taxes on British tea that would make their smuggling less profitable. In other words, not exactly the exciting display of patriotism its often made out to be.
7.21.2007 1:20am
TruePath (mail) (www):
So what's magical about the official release date as the day the NYT gets to review the book? Some people here are complaining that someone might see a spoiler or that there is no compelling justification for them to post it a day early. All of these arguments apply equally well to publishing a review the day after or in the first week or whatever. A large fraction of people won't be standing in a line at midnight and won't get their book for several more days. Why shouldn't the NYT hold back the review until then?

In fact I suspect the NYT creates substantially more utility by publishing the review a day early than it does in publishing the review the morning after the release when most people won't have finished the book yet but after it's too late to decide if it's worth standing in line at the official release to get it.

I understand why Rowling and some fans get so upset about this. When you are really into something it can be hard to understand that it might not be so important for everyone else. However, this doesn't mean she is right.


----
The Harry Potter Books are kids books that have a wide adult appeal as well. The fact that they have gotten somewhat dark and mean is totally irrelevant. This means they don't cater to adult's romanticized view of childhood. Heck, check out the fairy tails that people use to read to kids before the modern day. You have things in those stories that would cause many a modern adult to blink.

Obviously being a kids book is a vague category but Harry Potter is obviously deliberately written in a style that is accessible and appealing to children. I suspect the reason many people want to deny it is a kid's book is that this carries with it a certain stigma but it's the stigma that should go not the fact.

---

To the silly linguistic corrector in this comment thread: Why? We all can easily parse the meaning so what more do you want? Language is for communication, it's not a way to feel superior to other people.
7.21.2007 1:58am
PGofHSM (mail) (www):
"When you are really into something it can be hard to understand that it might not be so important for everyone else"

I was on the NYT's side about this until I saw that all day before the midnight release, there was a headline on the front page of the website about how the Times was "waiting with fans" for the release. No -- once you have reviewed it, you're no longer "waiting with the fans."
7.21.2007 2:10am
plunge (mail):
"In fact I suspect the NYT creates substantially more utility by publishing the review a day early than it does in publishing the review the morning after the release when most people won't have finished the book yet but after it's too late to decide if it's worth standing in line at the official release to get it. "

If you are the sort of person that needs to hear whether the NYTimes approves of a book, why the heck would you be standing in line at midnight to buy it the second it comes out?

The point is that the NYTimes had no real reason to publish a review early (using a book that someone else broke their contract to release early: and don't tell me that the NYTimes just happened upon this rare occurrence by "accident" as they imply) and publish spoilers, especially knowing that the hush hush release was meant to be a big event for fans. They were simply being dicks trying to scoop others and gain publicity for their failing paper, and now they stand with no real excuse and a bunch of stammering self-righteousness that ignores the plain fact that they're dicks.

Seriously, is there any good argument that what they did doesn't amount to nose-thumbing, holier-than-thou dickery? No one is claiming that it's illegal, just dick: it's no more or less dick than the guy that stole a copy and photoscanned the entire book and uploaded it onto the internet, or the people that have been posting spoilers wherever they can just to upset people.
7.21.2007 2:29am
Tagore Smith:

Seriously[sic], is there any good argument that what they did doesn't amount to nose-thumbing, holier-than-thou dickery?


No. Is there a good argument against nose-thumbing, holier-than-thou dickery? I'm afraid that I have too few opportunities to engage in such, tbh. Frankly, when my life is ending down in some quie tropiucal locale I will likely think.. boy I didn't engage in enough nose-thumbing, holier-than-thou dickery...
7.21.2007 5:23am
FC:
It's actually an interesting question: How many people were waiting for Michiko Kakutani's opinion before buying HP7?
7.21.2007 5:27am
Public_Defender (mail):
It's actually an interesting question: How many people were waiting for Michiko Kakutani's opinion before buying HP7?

I'm sure hoards of thirteen year-old's were camping out in long lines outside the NYT offices for copies of Kakutani's review.
7.21.2007 7:37am
Jeremy Pierce (mail) (www):
The NYT defense seems to misunderstand the objection. They seem to be arguing that it's well within their legal rights to do this. But that's not Rowling's objection. She's saying what they did was immoral. It's simply irrelevant to that complaint that they had no contract with the publisher and that it's legal to buy a book you see in the store and review it. Her complaint wasn't even that they gave a review, because you can give a review without spoilers. This review, and even moreso the Baltimore Sun review, did indeed have spoilers. I myself don't mind a few spoilers about general issues that come to be known within the first few chapters, particularly if there isn't suspense within those first few chapters about those things. But these went beyond that. The BS review (pun intended) even seems to have a hint about whether Harry dies, after saying they wouldn't reveal that! (But not having read the book, I don't know if that's the only way to take it, and I don't know if where it seems to hint is accurate to what happens.) But even without that, revealing what the Deathly Hallows are and that one of them is an object we've been seeing throuhgout the whole series is pretty huge. Revealing an event that takes place at least as far in as the middle of the book is also pretty bad. This is so for any book, never mind for so highly-anticipated a release, one where lots of people are craving for some information without wanting anything remotely close to moderate spoilers. So I concur with the judgment that these reviews were both immoral, and offering legal justifications doesn't even address that point. Leading someone to believe you won't spoil them on major issues and then going on to do so is simply wrong.
7.21.2007 8:49am
EIDE_Interface (mail):
Yawn. You people and your Harry Potter obsessions is really funny/embarrassing. What can I say? Get a life!
7.21.2007 4:14pm
old maltese:
Times spokeswoman:

"We came across a copy of 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows' at a store in New York City and we bought it...."

Sounds like a Monty Python routine:

"Oy was in innocent search of a 2nd edition Keats and ... 'Ello,' says I, 'could that be Airy Potter an' the bleeding Deathly Aloes??"
7.21.2007 5:02pm
Sparky:
Rowling/Bloomsbury are shocked, shocked to find that the New York times reviewed their book a day early . . .

And horrified, horrified, at the additional publicity that their protest is going to generate.
7.21.2007 5:36pm
Barbara Skolaut (mail):
People actually read the NY Times?
7.21.2007 10:36pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Having finished the book, I went back and read the two aforementioned reviews. Neither one gave away the ending, but both gave away plot points that, while not necessarily spoilers in the little sense, would have made the book somewhat less enjoyable. Hell, even the Times' headline gave away more than I would have wanted to know.
7.22.2007 6:31am
Randy R. (mail):
The NY Times has a lot of nerve, in my opinion.

First, I read the book reviews all the time, and quite often they don't review book a until after it has been published for several months. So it is quite disingenuous for them to suddenly decide that this particular review just HAD to be printed before it was published.

So is Harry Potter a children's book or not? If it is not, then fine -- review the book as an adult. And then put it on the NY Times Bestseller list. But, no -- wait, they didn't put in there. Why? Because they decided it was a children's book! And a children's book that JUST HAD TO BE REVIEWED before publication!

The book enjoyed among the highest pre-sales ever. So what was the point of the review? We read book reviews to help us determine whether the book is worth reading or not. IN this case, the readers have already made up their minds that they will read it, and not only that, that more people will read this particular book than all the books reviewed by the NY Times the past year combined. They can say what they like, but it will not likely alter its sales in the slightest.

So tell me again -- what is the point of reviewing this latest Harry Potter and getting it out before it was published?

My theory is that the book review section just wanted to prove that they are still relevant when in fact, at least with regards to children and HP fans, they clearly are not. Either that, or there are some disgruntled authors who are jealous of JK Rowling's success.
7.22.2007 4:48pm
Randy R. (mail):
I also note that the NY Times regularly reviews children's books in a special section of their Book Review which comes out about every other month or so. Why couldn't the review wait until then?
7.22.2007 6:15pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
It's not illegal, because the NYT wasn't bound to the publisher's embargo.

It's not immmoral, because people have no moral obligation to obey requests by publishers and authors not to interfere with their marketing campaigns, as was pointed about by Tim Rutten in the LA Times.

And for those people who saw the review, all they needed to do was remember Cohen v. California and Erznoznik v. City of Jacksonville-- avert your eyes.
7.23.2007 2:18pm