The reason the French translation is so delayed is the publisher's highly publicized "secrecy" efforts related to the text of the book -- they wouldn't let the official translator see the text until the release date. Scholastic spent a reported $20 million on their secrecy plan, which amounts to little more than marketing. No one really believes that an early leak of the details of Deathly Hallows would have cost Scholastic $20 million in lost sales. Instead, by making such a big deal out of keeping the outcome secret, the publisher convinced impressionable readers that the release would be an incredible revelation -- a cross between the truth about Roswell and the fact that we are all actually living in the Matrix.
That's smart marketing, but the problem is that Scholastic ended up believing its own schtick. By denying translators access to the work in advance, they ended up critically delaying the foreign releases -- even as they were busily convincing foreign readers that the spoilers for the end of Harry Potter were the kind of secret would melt their minds and make their brains run out of their ears.
So it was only natural that "heroic" trufan kids would take on the task of "rescuing" their linguistic group from being spoilered. Played right, this could have been a publicity opportunity in and of itself: a chance to show off the depth of feeling experienced by the Pottermaniacs around the world.
But once they throw this kid in jail and drag him through the courts, the marketing stunt turns toxic. He's a reader, a superfan, someone who was set up to do this by their own silly hype machine. Ruining his life with a conviction, enormous file, or even jail time (he's being charged as a counterfeiter!) isn't just bad marketing, it's just evil.
Kids publishers shouldn't put kids in jail. I can't believe that this needs to be said, but apparently it does.
The French teen translator, a high school student from Aix-en-Provence in southern France, likely had less sinister intentions.Link (Thanks, Jason!)
"He just wanted to get the book online" and did not appear to be seeking commercial gain, Aix Prosecutor Olivier Rothe said Wednesday. The boy apparently compiled the entire translation himself, Rothe said...
"To wait three months to have a French version, that is too much!" said Ketty Do, a 17-year-old, flipping through the English version at a bookstore on the Champs-Elysees.
Do called the teen translator "a courageous person" but added, laughing: "Still, I will wait for the official version, since this kid is only 16."
Twelve-year-old Robin Gallaud, looking at video games in the bookstore, had no such reservations.
"If I find the French version on the Net, I will read it," he said.
I write books. My latest is a YA science fiction novel called Homeland (it's the sequel to Little Brother). More books: Rapture of the Nerds (a novel, with Charlie Stross); With a Little Help (short stories); and The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow (novella and nonfic). I speak all over the place and I tweet and tumble, too.