Broken 'Harry Potter' embargo: something stinks

Online book distributor and parent company are now up to their eyeballs in lawsuit, and something is awfully fishy in Hogwarts.

Scholastic Publisher on Thursday sued the dickens out of DeepDiscount.com and its parent company, Infinity Resources, for allegedly making Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows available before the publisher's official release time of 12:01 a.m. Saturday. This breach led The New York Times and Baltimore Sun to lawfully claim that copies of the book could be obtained at a public retail outlet before publishing their book reviews, which included details considered spoilers.

Infinity Resources offers "perfect fulfillment," by which they mean perfect order fulfillment, I presume, and not some kind of state of Zen-like enlightenment. "Your search for perfection has led you to Infinity Resources," Infinity croons on its home page. With the page's dreamy blue colors and a super-sweet little lady tilting her head and smiling at you with, indeed, what appears to be Zen-like calm, you could use the site's graphic aesthetic for a day spa or spiritual retreat center.

And let's have a look at DeepDiscount.com. The site looks flashy--clunky, but functional. Hey, what's that grinning mischievously in the corner? A toothy, grinning shark. In sunglasses.

So let's see. Here we have a distributor of digital and print media that claims to satisfy a publisher's "search for perfection" in order fulfillment, with easily the most sought-after contract of the entire book publishing industry, working with a subsidiary whose logo is a shark, apparently--oopsie!--making the book available days in advance. Something smells fishy!

How did newspapers know of DeepDiscount's broken embargo? Wonder whether it was worth more to the retailer than what they'll lose in the lawsuit?

Meanwhile, while I was writing this missive, a CNET News.com tipster in Chico, Calif., reported that she got her Harry Potter shipment early--almost. She got an empty Amazon box. She suspects that someone in delivery chain opened the box, removed the book and packing slip, and retaped it for delivery. Call it the Spell of the Disappearing Book.

An Amazon.com customer service representative told our tipster that there was "no way" the box had contained the book, but could not explain why an empty, tampered box was delivered to her, especially since she hadn't placed any other orders with the online retailer recently. She was told to wait until Saturday, and then she could ask for her money back if she didn't receive the book. Talk about a teaser.

And if this really is a case of the book being sent early and stolen from the mail, is it really worth risking a federal charge of tampering with the mail for a few extra hours with a book that will be widely available this weekend?

We'll be sitting back and watching to see how these mysteries turn out.

 

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