Thursday, June 21, 2007

Hacker claims to post Harry Potter spoiler

A hacker allegedly swiped a soft copy of the forthcoming Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows from London-based Bloomsbury Publishing and posted a spoiler online. The publisher is dismissing this as just another theory, but the hacker claims to have done it to "make reading of the upcoming book useless and boring." I'm not linking to the spoiler because I regard the hacker's actions (if true) as theft and wouldn't want to draw more attention to him. But I do consider the story itself to merit discussion because of what it could imply about marketing in today's online world.

While it's likely that the hacker did steal the file or is lying, there is also a third possibility: this could be deliberate misinformation. Deathly Hallows is the most anticipated book in a long time, and a publicized rumor like this could be one way to muddy the waters and keep fans guessing, perhaps in case the real ending gets leaked, or just to stir up further hype. Some claim that George Lucas is a master of this practice, and much has been written about how studios and fanboys alike do it online. Could this be the case with Potter? I have no idea, but with technology allowing rumors to travel quickly and with so many other forms of entertainment stealing away readers from the publishing industry, it's possible.

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