Time Magazine Feature on Scholastic Effort to Keep “Deathly Hallows” Secret and Special for Fans
Jun 29, 2007
Time magazine has a new in- depth feature on the efforts used by the team at US Harry Potter publishers Scholastic, as they have gone about preparing for the release of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.” Detailing the steps the company went through, including a representative traveling to the UK to pick up the final manuscript of the last Harry Potter book (“To make absolutely sure the manuscript was safe on the plane, he sat on it”), to the efforts made by the truck delivering the book (“travel to stores on pallets, sealed in black plastic, in trucks tracked by GPS”), the article points out the extraordinary efforts at hand in order to preserve that special unspoiled moment when we Harry Potter fans pick up the last book for the first time.
“This is the moment of ineffable, intangible ecstasy that occurs when a reader opens his or her brand-new $34.99 copy of Deathly Hallows for the first time. “All the way through the process, everybody who touches this [manuscript] has the same goal in mind,” says Arthur A. Levine, Rowling’s editor. “Midnight. Kids.” The magic moment is a rare and delicate thing: it occurs only when the reader comes to the book in a state of pure ignorance, with no advance knowledge of its contents. For the magic moment to happen, the theory goes, the reader’s mind must be preserved in a state of absolute innocence”it must be, in Internet parlance, spoiler-free.”
The Harry Potter team at Scholastic is interviewed, including past PotterCast guest Cheryl Klein (aka Hotttt Cheryl) who details some of her job as an editor on the books, and what it was like for her when she traveled to the UK to pick up a revised edition of the precious manuscript.
Another early reader was a studious 28-year-old named Cheryl Klein, whose job title is continuity editor. Rowling’s books have become so complex”and their fans so obsessively nitpicky”that it takes a full-time Potterologist to make sure Rowling’s fictional universe stays factually consistent. “I keep track of all of the various proper nouns that appear in the series,” says Klein. “For instance, with Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans, I make sure it’s always B-o-t-t-apostrophe-s. Every Flavor is not hyphenated, and Flavor does not have a u.” It’s a tough beat: Klein acknowledges, for example, that in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Moaning Myrtle sits in a U-bend toilet, whereas in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, she occupies an S-bend toilet (this crept in, it should be noted, before Klein’s tenure, which began after Goblet). Klein has either the worst job in the world or the best, depending on how you look at it.
Like everyone else at Scholastic, Klein maintains the Harry Potter omertÃ . “Most people know better than to ask,” she says. “That includes my friends and my family and everyone else.” After Rowling revised the manuscript, per Levine’s and Klein’s suggestions, Klein flew to England to pick up the new draft. On her way home she was stopped for a random security check at Heathrow. “The woman opens up my bag, and she starts pawing through it. And she says, ‘Wow! You have a lot of paper here.’ And I thought, Oh, God, she’s going to look at it, and she’s going to see the names Harry and Ron and Hermione. But I just smiled, and I said, ‘Yes, a lot of paper!’ And she said, ‘Uh-huh,’ and she zipped it up. That was the end of the scariest two minutes of my life.”
The July 3 issue of Time Magazine will be on newsstands this weekend.