If the header image of this article reminds you of giddy anticipation at a Harry Potter book midnight release party, it'll make the kid inside you pleased to know that there were larger forces at work in making sure your experience of the wizarding world never got seriously spoiled.
According to a conversation between Bloomsbury founder Nigel Newton and Australian radio station ABC, extreme measures had to be taken to ensure no leaks happened between the start of book printing and actual release dates. "It was completely mad and we were at the eye of the storm," Newton said.
So mad, apparently, that the publisher had to be on total lockdown to prevent aggressive fans from finding out the even smallest tidbits about the ongoing saga of Harry Potter. "I remember Jo Rowling phoning me once after she'd delivered a new book and saying, 'Please, Nigel, will you release the name of the title, because I have people outside searching my trashcan looking for bits of paper,'" he recalled.
"At about that time we had to go into a complete security lockdown, because people were trying to steal the manuscript," Newton continued. "We had one case where The Sun newspaper sent a journalist — so the story goes — with an attaché case full of £5,000 in notes to circle the printing factory ... and they offered a worker this money if he'd go in and nick a copy."
Eventually, the printing factory enlisted the help of German shepherds to patrol the perimeter, and even had judges and a prominent British security agency in its corner — the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ). If not for them, false information about The Half-Blood Prince, the sixth book in the Harry Potter series, could have spread around the internet like wildfire.
"The British spy eavesdropping station GCHQ rang me up and said, 'We've detected an early copy of this book on the internet'," Newton said. "I got him to read a page to our editor and she said, 'Nah, that's a fake'."
Asked to comment on its role in preventing any leaks, the agency apparently replied, "We don't comment on our defense against the dark arts."
Well played, spies. Well played.