New Harry Potter Book Leaked on BitTorrent
It’s online: digital photographs of every page are available on BitTorrent.
I’ve been fielding press calls on this, mostly from reporters asking me what the publisher could have done differently. Honestly, I don’t think it was possible to keep the book under wraps. There are millions of copies of the book headed to all four corners of the globe. There are simply too many people who must be trusted in order for the security to hold. And all it takes is one untrustworthy person—one truck driver, one bookstore owner, one warehouse worker—to leak the book.
But conversely, I don’t think the publishers should care. Anyone fan-crazed enough to read digital photographs of the pages a few days before the real copy comes out is also someone who is going to buy a real copy. And anyone who will read the digital photographs instead of the real book would have borrowed a copy from a friend. My guess is that the publishers will lose zero sales, and that the pre-release will simply increase the press frenzy.
I’m kind of amazed the book hadn’t leaked sooner.
And, of course, it is inevitable that we’ll get ASCII copies of the book post-publication, for all of you who want to read it on your PDA.
EDITED TO ADD (7/18): I was interviewed for “Future Tense” on this story.
EDITED TO ADD (7/20): This article outlines some of the security measures the publisher took with the manuscript.
EDITED TO ADD (7/25): The camera has a unique serial number embedded in each of the digital photos which might be used to track the author. Just another example of how we leave electronic footprints everywhere we go.
EDITED TO ADD (8/15): Here is a much more comprehensive analysis of who the leaker is:
- The photographer is Caucasian.
- The photographer is probably not married (no wedding ring on left hand).
- The photographer is likely male. In the first few photos, the ring finger appears to be longer than the index finger. This is called the 2D:4D ratio and a lower ratio is symptomatic a high level of testosterone, suggesting a male. However, there is no clear shot of the fingers layed out, so this is not conclusive.
- Although cameras are usually designed for right-handed use, the photographer uses his left hand to pin down the book. This suggests that the photographer is right handed. (I’ve seen southpaws try to do this sort of thing, and they usually hold the camera in an odd way with their left hand.) However, this too is not conclusive.
- The photographer’s hand looks young—possibly a teenager or young adult.
Much, much more in the link.