Friday, April 06, 2007

Oh, please

I admire J.K. Rowling as much as the next librarian, but this is just too much:
FARMINGTON, Utah — No peeking.

The publisher of the new Harry Potter novel has strict rules for libraries handling the book this summer.

Among them: Libraries must limit the number of employees who handle the books before the July 21 release and provide names and contact information for each branch manager, according to the contract from Scholastic Inc.

"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" is the final book in J.K. Rowling's popular series about the boy wizard.

Davis County Library director Pete Giacoma got a contract on March 28 and shared it with county commissioners. "I think we better ratify," Commissioner Bret Millburn said. "I think we'd get a spell cast on us."

The contract says failure to keep "Deathly Hallows" under wraps until July 21 could get libraries scratched from future embargoed titles. "We acknowledge and agree that any such violation will cause irreparable harm to Scholastic and the author, J.K. Rowling, and that monetary damages will be inadequate to compensate for violations," the contract states.

I'm sure there are probably all kinds of crazy legal issues at work here in attempting such a silly gag order - especially when it comes to public library employees, whose First Amendment protections are far more broad than those of us who toil in the semiprivate sector - but there's also the simple matter that this is the last installment of Harry Potter anyway, so what kind of leverage does Scholastic really have if anyone leaks spoilers or a review?

And not to put too fine a point on it, but advance press only hurts you if your work sucks (cf. George Lucas).

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