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Rant :: Book Publishers are morons
  submitted on August 10, 2007, 11:07 AM

Courtesy of Boing Boing and The Denver Post:

"A French sixteen year old who published a fan-translation of the last Harry Potter novel was jailed overnight and now faces charges for copyright infringement. The boy wanted to save French kids from spoilers. He translated Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows when he discovered that the official French translation would take three months, and he grew concerned that bilingual readers would have twelve weeks to accidentally (or maliciously) spoiler their friends' experiences."

Awesome. So here we have some kid who tried to help people avoid being spoiled by spending his own free time translating the book into French since the book won't come out in French for three months. It's a noble act. I can also see the side of the publisher, considering people would just read the translated version online and not buy the book when it finally came out. However, as I continued through the article and discovered why the book was going to be released three months late in French:

"The reason the French translation is so delayed is the publisher's highly publicized "secrecy" efforts related to the text of the book -- they wouldn't let the official translator see the text until the release date."

So...let me see if I've got this; Scholastic spends a reported $20 million to prevent the book from being spoiled onto the 'net before the book's release date. They tell their fans that the ending to the Harry Potter saga is huge, there are incredible things that happen in this book! Obviously, therefore, there are many readers who want to avoid spoilers at all costs. But then, while reveling in their genius, part of their plan includes not giving the official translators the book until the official release date. In turn this screws everyone over who doesn't speak English, and not only do French speakers have to keep their anticipation for an additional three months, they are now exposed to spoilers everywhere, since the happenings in The Deathly Hallows is common knowledge.

Now, because the publishing company was too stupid and paranoid to let the book be translated before the worldwide release date, some kid who tries to correct their idiotic mistakes and do something to help out the Potter fans, and his reward is jail time. How ridiculous. This kid's not trying to benefit from his translation, he's not selling copies of it, he genuinely just wanted everyone to be able to read it, which in theory should be the one in the same with JK Rowling and Scholastic's mission.

Of course, copyright infringement aside, considering that any lost sales from this situation would be minimal at best (325 million Harry Potter books have been sold worldwide), and since the publisher can only think about its own priorities, one would think the negative publicity from something like this might draw their attention and make them think twice before arresting this kid. To arrest a Harry Potter fan, only trying to help out other Harry Potter fans because the people who make the Harry Potter books are too inept to help them. Sounds like a real heartwarming story. Makes me want to go out right now and buy five copies of Deathy Hallows. This story is such bad PR, it even has someone like me, who couldn't care less about Harry Potter, blogging about how stupid Scholastic and Rowling look in this situation.

Maybe you should have used some of the billions of dollars Harry Potter has brought in to actually allow the readers who buy your book to be able to read it when it comes out.

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