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Potter mania, writ large

I have fallen sway to Pottermania. My helpmeet was adamant that if Scholastic started threatening those who've managed to get their hands on copies of the latest book, like they did with the last one, we wouldn't buy it (and no, we still don't own #6, but we have read it). I've ordered a copy for pick-up after midnight at my semi-local independent bookstore. But while I wait, there's the curious phenomenon of not wanting to be spoiled. I find it interesting ... sometimes, I want to be spoiled and sometimes I don't.

But spoiling is a big deal nowadays. It's tied up with publicity, of course. And criticism and review ... for instance, the NY Times has already posted its review of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and I'm not sure that a book review that wasn't at least somewhat spoilery would really be much good.

And now there's linkage between spoilery and contract law, as Scholastic threatens to to sue book retailers who allowed HP7 to ship early to buyers. There's issues of copyright law, as pointed out by Salon's Farhad Manjoo in his entry about HP7 being leaked online. A later entry discussed copyright, the expectations and readers versus authors and publishers, fan fiction and control over information products. Meanwhile, a local tech writer believes that "[t]he real issue is the sense of entitlement that prompts many on the Net to believe that everything's up for grabs, that you shouldn't have to pay for anything found online because digital content wants to be free."

That's a lot for one little series of children/YA fantasy. What does it all mean? Maybe little, maybe nothing. Or maybe it's a grand example of what Nick Gillespie, Editor-in-Chief of Reason magazine describes as identity creation, "how actual people use culture to create identity, take pleasure, and negotiate their relationship to the world."