If you, like me, have little connection (though Jarren’s all into it) to the Harry Potter series of books and films (my brain can only contain so much geek mythology, thank you very much George Lucas)… then you may be interested in reading the New York Times review of the final installment. What’s most interesting to me about Michiko Kakutani’s brief analysis of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (spoiler alert: she liked it), is that her time to formulate ideas must have been about 30-35 minutes, tops. You see, the publisher didn’t send her a review copy. No one is supposed to get a copy until this weekend, when it is released worldwide.
According to her piece, she obtained the tome from a “New York City store” which decided to break its embargo on keeping the book off shelves until midnight Saturday like the rest of the world. Listed with the book’s details is the retail price of $34.99, but one could suspect that Kakutani likely had to fork over additional funds for a premium to get the exclusive. And, hey, in today’s world of dog-eat-dog/online-versus-print journalism, who can blame the New York Times? I will be interested to see, though, what kind of commentary – if any – will develop over the next few days about press embargoes with regard to pirated material (would you even call this that?). If a film critic reviews a bootleg DVD of a film instead of seeing it at a sanctioned press screening, it’s the end of the world. Is it somehow more tolerable for a literary critic to get their hands on a book through unofficial circumstances?
It may be an “official” copy of Harry Potter and the Deathy Hallows, but it’s just as pirated as those $10 DVDs you can buy on the side streets down the way from the New York Times offices.
After writing the above, I came across Anne Thompson’s recent blog entry examining some of these parallels.