Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The truth can be fiction

We are less than three months away from the launch of the seventh and final Harry Potter book and hype has already started to bubble into a standoff between hardcore fans and so called ‘spoilers’ – publicity stunt perhaps?

The problem started late April when a leading Harry Potter fan site, the-leaky-cauldron.org, started receiving ‘spoiler’ mail from sources claiming to have the inside track on the contents and ultimately the outcome of the final storyline. This upset the leaky cauldron people and angered them enough to post this message on their site.

“If Harry dies, we don't want to know about it until J.K. Rowling decides to tell us. And if you decide to tell us before that, you'll incur the wrath of a staff of almost 200, most of whom have been waiting almost 10 years for these final revelations and can NEVER get back the moment you rob by spoiling them.”

It’s the nature of the online space for users to share information (whether it is true or false) instantaneously with one another and sometimes in the process create commercial success for others like the Blair Witch Project for example.

So this could simply be a cleverly planned publicity stunt designed to ruffle the right sorts of feathers in a bid to generate pre-launch hype and excitement, reminding everyone that the countdown to the final Harry Potter book is coming to an end.

Harry Potter author, J.K. Rowling has already told fans that she will kill off two major characters in this final installation, titled Deathly Hallows, so could this be the next step in team Potter’s marketing scheme to guarantee themselves a fitting finale to what has been an amazing success story. Reports suggest that Amazon.com has already received over one million pre-orders for the book – expect that figure to rise in the coming months.

Rowling, herself felt compelled to respond to the comments posted on the leaky cauldron fan site by writing on her site, “…the first distant rumblings of the weirdness that usually precedes a Harry Potter publication can be heard on the horizon”.

“I want the readers who have, in many instances, grown up with Harry, to embark on the last adventure they will share with him without knowing where they are they going. Some, perhaps, will read this and take the view that all publicity is good publicity, that spoilers are part of hype, and that I am trying to protect sales rather than my readership. However, spoilers won't stop people buying the book, they never have - all it will do is diminish their pleasure in the book”.

Whatever it is, the book is going to sell well but I just wonder about all these free publicity news stories sometimes – are they really genuine or just the result of another marketing gimmick?

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