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The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Am I the only person on the planet who doesn't find the coyness from publishers and filmmakers about basic aspects of upcoming books to be intriguing? I just find it annoying. What in the world would be wrong with giving the cover-flap summary, the same as you'd get to read on a normal book when you go to pre-order at Amazon or whatnot? Yes, they know we're going to read it (HBP) anyway, so they don't actually need to have a marketing blurb, but the whole thing just irritates me. What is an obsession with secrecy to the point where they can't say what a new character is? You know, like, "There's a new DADA teacher," or "Harry meets a friend of his mother's" or... well, you know.

I mean, am I just weird in finding it singularly unappealing that that won't say what the book's basically about? I mean, I missed the original push for Sorcerer's Stone, but I'm reasonably sure that it at least would have said, "Eleven-year-old Harry Potter goes off to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where he comes face to face with the dark wizard who killed his parents." It tells you nothing about the plot, nothing about how Harry will prevail, nothing about who his friends are, but it still is enough to say, "Hmm. That sounds interesting." Running around saying, "I've got a secret! Nya-nya-nya-nya-nya!" is... just irritating. Not in a fascinating, I-gotta-find-out way. Just in an irritating way.
23 comments or Leave a comment
persephone_kore From: persephone_kore Date: May 24th, 2005 07:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm aware that some books have been published with overly spoilery cover blurbs, but not publishing one at all seems ridiculous. I know some people are weirdly obsessive about avoiding spoilers, but....
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 24th, 2005 07:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
OotP spoileriffic summary: Harry is reunited with Sirius just before the latter dies.

Non-spoiler: Harry's actions lead to the death of one of the most important people in his life.

The latter tells you nothing whatsoever except the nature of the plot... the thing you need to know to create interest.

It goes back to my gripe about reviews that say only, "Go see this movie! It won an award!" My response is always, "Yeah, so? What's it about?"
persephone_kore From: persephone_kore Date: May 24th, 2005 08:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, I know.

I feel very pathetic for planning to buy and read HBP promptly in spite of the deliberate obnoxiousness. :P
swatkat24 From: swatkat24 Date: May 24th, 2005 07:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh yes! I saw it this morning and rolled my eyes. "I'm afraid I can't tell you that" - no one's asking you to tell us the whole story!

ashtur From: ashtur Date: May 24th, 2005 07:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's not all that hard either...

"At the end of the last year, Harry lost his stepfather, and the Dark Lord Voldemort stood revealed to the Wizarding World. Harry and his friends will be forced to confront the growing darkness, while they deal with (insert adjective here) new Defense Teacher."
pacoman From: pacoman Date: May 24th, 2005 09:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
Unless Lily had enough time between James' death and her own to remarry, I think you meant "godfather".
ashtur From: ashtur Date: May 24th, 2005 09:28 pm (UTC) (Link)

Oh well, I'm good at looking like a ninny
zoepaleologa From: zoepaleologa Date: May 24th, 2005 07:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
Here you go, from a 1997 copy of PS/SS (mine):

"Harry Potter thinks he is an ordinary boy - until he is rescued by an owl, taken to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, learns to play Quidditch, and does battle in a deadly duel. The Reason: HARRY POTTER IS A WIZARD!"

That was actually issued in the original summaries that came out earlier that year for the hardback (I read the paperback), and it was that summary, in the Guardian children's books section which determined me to buy it to read to my daughter (age 9 and a not too keen reader). I waited for the paperback because I was broke.

It's not actually an totally accurate picture of PS/SS but a good teaser - pulls you in without giving any of the main plot points away. There is nothing about Harry being an orphan, of the circumstances of his being orphaned, or about Voldemort.

Perhaps they "suk at summeriez".
daisan From: daisan Date: May 24th, 2005 08:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yes, I hate it too. It's not a genuine teaser, it's just publicizing the fact that there's information out there, but refusing to give us any of it. Spoilers don't enter into it; they could easily give clues without giving away major plot points. Just like James Patterson could write a chapter more than three pages in length, but then he'd have to make his book ABOUT something.

Sorry. Moving on.
(Deleted comment)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 24th, 2005 08:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
It doesn't have to be the flap copy, just that sort of basic non-informational information. This is precipitated by an interview with someone from the publishing company who answered nearly every question with, "I can't talk about that." So why give the interview? It says nothing, it gives nothing, it doesn't sell books. "I'll give you a character name..." the person says, then saying, "Ooo, but I won't tell you who it is!"
lyras From: lyras Date: May 25th, 2005 02:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
If you're talking about the CNN interview that the Leaky Cauldron transcribed yesterday, I agree with you that the interviewees were ridiculously coy, particularly Levine in providing the non-information about McLeggan (I thought he was to be McLaggan but that's probably just me), which JKR has already told the world about.

I did, however, think that the questions posed about the book were very unlikely to be answered (will Ron and Hermione get together, does anyone die, who's the new minister for magic, for example). I mean, as if they're really going to let out whether Ron & Hermione get together before the book's released!

But yes, why give an interview if you don't have anything to say?
alkari From: alkari Date: May 24th, 2005 09:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, I think the publisher's rep. gave the interview because they were being hounded to 'give an interview'. Sometimes it is a lot easier to give an interview and keep saying you can say nothing on certain issues, than it is to consistently refuse to even GIVE the interview. Ask any politician - they are experts in that!!

But I agree about the back flap summary - any one of us could write a perfectly good teaser summary without giving away anything more than the few facts we know already - such as Harry getting his OWLs results, there is a new Minister for Magic and Yet Another DADA teacher, the war gets worse, more deaths, etc.
marycontraria From: marycontraria Date: May 24th, 2005 09:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
sabrinanymph From: sabrinanymph Date: May 24th, 2005 10:17 pm (UTC) (Link)

*jumps on board your rant train*


That's all there is to say about it. I'm unimpressed that they're not releasing the back cover art as well. If it is that spoilery, then please don't make it the back cover art! I don't want to know when I pick up the book what's going to happen inside the book. And if you're just not releasing it to be annoying, then get over yourselves!
lilac_bearry From: lilac_bearry Date: May 24th, 2005 11:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
I have a feeling that JK knows some people in the fandom won't like what the summary says. She wants to postpone the inevitable, I guess. Just my little theory.
gentlespirit From: gentlespirit Date: May 25th, 2005 01:06 am (UTC) (Link)
About two years after I first read PoA, I read the blurb for what I think was the first time. I remember being so surprised because that description would never get me to pick up the book....and I love the actual book. Since then I've tried to take that into consideration. But then there are also things like the descriptions than ran in guides when The Wizard of Oz was first being shown on TV, and it made that sound terrible--something to the effect of 'a young girl run away from home and commits a murder in another land.' I know that's not it, but it was something of that nature.
author_by_night From: author_by_night Date: May 25th, 2005 01:10 am (UTC) (Link)
I completely agree! Tell us *something*.
kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: May 25th, 2005 01:18 am (UTC) (Link)
Did I miss something and where did I miss it?
zagara From: zagara Date: May 25th, 2005 04:14 am (UTC) (Link)
Dunno how much this influences the publishers/handlers, but it seems like the fandom has become PSYCHOTICALLY anti-spoiler. There was all that "The cover is a spoiler!!" flap when it was first released, and now there's the issue of The Leak (which, to be fair, leaks a fairly important secret, but not a surprising one). Wonder how much of the info-giving paranoia comes from the publishers, and how much from the fans.

Note: Not really a spoilerlover or phobe myself, just someone who doesn't mind previews for "next week!" or a little flap-summary.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 25th, 2005 04:53 am (UTC) (Link)
I expect that the publishers and the complete spoilerphobes are feeding off one another.

Good Lord, if the cover was going to spoil the book, then it wouldn't be the cover. The point of the cover is to give some sense of the book--enough to make you curious to find out what it's all about. If it told you everything, it would defeat the purpose of tempting you to buy it. Hence, covers do not contain anything that could be construed as a "spoiler," as in "something that spoils the pleasure of reading the book because it tells you a secret ahead of time." The don't tell secrets. They tell you that there are secrets.

This is across fandoms, too. I remember when the RotS pictures started to come out, people were screaming if an icon showed one of Padmé's new costumes or something.

Today's non-spoiler... not exactly a shocking guess, and it could be attributable to any number of things.
ashavah From: ashavah Date: May 25th, 2005 11:19 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm a spoilerphobe. But fer cryin' out loud! What are people going to do, not walk into a bookstore for months in case they see the HP cover on a poster?
ashavah From: ashavah Date: May 25th, 2005 11:21 am (UTC) (Link)
They needn't even say much. They could kenobi a bit and the fans would get very excited. ;-)
erised1810 From: erised1810 Date: May 25th, 2005 10:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
OH I havne't followedanything lately .I'l jsut read the book. *shrug* Can hardl ybeleiv they're holdign back the cover blurbs.
the tign i'm woridaobutis that I for one don't seem to give a sack. Liek I said .i'l rad te book *shrug* adn I don't lie kthat shrug one bit.
23 comments or Leave a comment