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 Post subject: Harry Potter to arrive in Lanka under tighter security
 Post Posted: Tue Apr 12, 2005 3:12 am 
Potting Pirates

11 April 2005 14:22 hours
@LBO


Harry Potter flies into Sri Lanka again in July and with local bookshops already on a publicity blast, no VIP arrival could be under tighter security.

Security arrangements of the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, were low key compared to the security measures for the teenage wizard.
"Only eight importers, that have done business with Bloomsbury before, can get the books. And that is also only one week before the release date of July 16," says Shan Rajagura, CEO, Inscript Pvt Ltd – the Sri Lankan agent for Harry Potter publisher Bloomsbury.

Local importers are also bound by an agreement that Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, will not be released to the local market before Saturday, July 16.

"The freight forwarder in the UK signs an embargo with the supplier to deliver the books on a specific date and not before. The importer signs an embargo not to sell before the given date. Even if the books are released to retailers, an embargo is signed with them," explains Rajaguru.

For 10,000 copies of an adventure series that has already sold over 200 million books world wide, all the fuss seems hardly worth it.

The local agents however, say this is the only way to stop Harry’s adventures from magically replicating.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – the previous Potter adventure -sold only around 8,000 copies and the security arrangements showed some leaks.

Publishing pirates got a finger in the Potter-cash-pie by tapping the local language market.

Sinhala translations of two of the Harry Potter books were flying off book racks outside Colombo for Rs 60 - the original version was over Rs 1,500 in Colombo - before Bloomsbury caught on.

In the sidelines a local playwright hitchhiked on Colombo’s Potter mania to float a political comedy with a title that sounded a like Harry Potter.

Damages were much higher in India.

"After the first 100,000 copies were sold at the launch, they couldn’t sell any more because cheaper pirate copies flooded the market," says Rajaguru.

"It wasn’t so bad in Sri Lanka because the English book market is very small and the book itself was large - over 600 pages. So the cost of printing pirate copies was higher but they had no market to recover the cost," says Rajaguru.

Now with Harry Potter and Half Blood Prince on the way Colombo’s book retailers are warming up Potter mania again.

Booksellers are already taking reservations, offering various freebies and organising Harry Potter parties for July 16.

But in the backdrop of all the festivity more security measures are in motion.

"We are keeping tabs on the bookshops and printing presses," says Rajaguru.

The word is already out in the back streets of Colombo of lawsuits and shackles if any copycat Potters were to suddenly materialise.

Leading bookshops and distribution networks have also been told to keep their eyes peeled for pirate activity.

Translation rights though, to take Harry Potter to thousands of Sinhala and Tamil speaking children, are not in the horizon.

In fact, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince is set to become one of the best kept secrets, for a children’s story book.

-Dilshani Samaraweera: dilshanis@vanguardlanka.com


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