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richard-schickel

''Potter'' leaks: Are they for real?

”You can’t believe everything you see,” says ”Deathly Hallows” publisher Scholastic in response to a deluge of alleged pre-release spoilers and chapters from the book popping up on the Web

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Eamonn McCormack/WireImage.com

In the final days leading up to July 21’s midnight release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the seventh and final book in J.K. Rowling’s series, there has been a predictable onslaught of people who say they have obtained an advance copy and websites claiming to reveal chapter-by-chapter spoilers. One such site claims to have scanned and published every single page of the book, right down to the author’s bio. Fans will have to decide for themselves whether they want to check out these claims or wait for the official release, and as a spokesperson for Potter publisher Scholastic said in a statement Tuesday, that is the only way to know with absolute certainty what happens in the final book.

”There is a lot of material on the Internet that claims to come from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, but anyone can post anything on the Internet and you can’t believe everything you see online,” the statement read. ”We all have our theories on how the series will end, but the only way we’ll know for sure is to read the book ourselves at 12:01 a.m. on July 21st. No matter what anyone claims before that time, we know that parents, booksellers, librarians and especially fans do not want spoilers but rather want to keep the magic alive for that midnight moment when everyone can read the book together.”

Of course, Scholastic has a vested interest in debunking spoiler claims and encouraging readers to lay down their $34.99 to read the secrets themselves. The near-obsessive efforts to keep the book under lock-and-key include wrapping the books in black plastic as they travel to stores on trucks tracked by GPS, keeping secret the location of printing plants, and threatening serious legal action against anyone who breaks the embargo.

”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 going,” Rowling has written on her website.

And yet, despite Scholastic’s attempts at increased security, there’s a deluge of people claiming to have spoilers from the book and reports of it being traded on online file-sharing sites. It’s quite possible, despite Scholastic’s attempt to cast doubt, that someone was able to get hold of a copy early, read it, and post the spoilers. Whatever the truth, nobody thinks it’ll prevent the 784-page Deathly Hallows from quickly running through its 12-million-copy first printing anyway. ”[Leaks] happened with the last [Potter] book too,” said a manager at a major book retailer in New York City. ”It’s Harry Potter, right?”