NEW YORK—The assault on the " Harry Potter" embargo continued Wednesday, as Scholastic Inc., publisher of the blockbuster series, revealed that as many as 1,200 copies of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" were delivered the day before to readers who bought the books from an online company, in apparent violation of an agreement by retailers not to sell any copies until midnight Friday.
Kyle Good, spokeswoman for Scholastic, implored the people who had received the advance copies to "keep the packages hidden" until the deadline, when 12 million copies of the eagerly awaited novel are due to go on sale online and in bookstores across the nation.
The publisher said it was taking legal action against Levy Home Entertainment, a distributor, and DeepDiscount.com, a customer of the distributor, which Scholastic said had mailed out the copies in "a breach of the on-sale agreement."
Scholastic, already stung by pirated images ostensibly of the manuscript that had begun appearing the day before on the Internet, filed court papers Wednesday in Chicago against Levy, based in Illinois, accusing it of "complete and flagrant violations of the agreements that they knew were part of the carefully constructed release of this eagerly awaited book."
Andrew Moscrip, vice president with Infinity Resources, of which DeepDiscount.com is a subsidiary, said: "We are obviously taking the matter very seriously, and we're conducting an entire investigation internally, and at this point there is no comment." A spokesperson for Levy Home Entertainment did not respond to requests for comment.
Good, in a prepared statement, thanked booksellers who have honored the release date, and she urged the media "to preserve the fun and excitement for fans everywhere."
Meanwhile, the book's author, J.K. Rowling, wrote in a message posted on her website, "Let's all, please, ignore the misinformation popping up on the web and in the press on the plot of 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.' I'd like to ask everyone who considers themselves a Potter fan to help preserve the secrecy of the plot for all those who are looking forward to reading the book at the same time on publication day. In a very short time, you will know EVERYTHING!"
But the first known newspaper review of the book appeared Wednesday on the Baltimore Sun's website. Reviewer Mary Carole McCauley, who "has gotten her hands on an early copy," according to a separate story on the website, declined to give away any plot twists. She did, however, drop a big hint about the main character's fate.