Rowling may salvage $100m from the ashes of leaked 'Phoenix'

Click to follow

A New York newspaper which yielded to temptation and published titbits from the new Harry Potter book before its official release is facing a $100m (£60m) lawsuit from J K Rowling, the book's author.

The New York Daily News, a tabloid newspaper based on Long Island, got hold of an early copy of the book when a reporter passed by a Brooklyn store that had ignored - inadvertently, according to the owners - an injunction not to put its copies on display until midnight tonight. The paper offered what it called a "brief glimpse into the 870 action-packed pages" of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, giving away some elements of the plot, and reproduced two full pages of the text verbatim.

A statement from Scholastic, the series' US publisher, deplored the leak and hoped "this unfortunate situation will not spoil the surprise for millions of children around the country who have been eagerly awaiting the book".

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Manhattan by representatives of the author, rather the publisher, was made public on Wednesday. The Daily News insisted it had done nothing wrong, "journalistically or legally", and vowed to defend any action vigorously.

The new volume, coming three years after the last instalment, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, is expected to be the biggest sales phenomenon of the series to date. The new book is the fifth in the series.

Scholastic's initial print run in the United States is 8.5 million copies, while Bloomsbury in the UK has printed 2.5 million copies. The series as a whole has sold 195 million copies worldwide. Amazon said it received 1.2 million pre-publication orders for the latest release.

Despite extraordinary security measures - designed to whet the appetite of Harry fans as much as protect the book - a few leaks have been impossible to avoid.

In Britain, chapters of the book were offered to The Sun newspaper after going missing from the printers, and 8,000 copies were stolen from a delivery lorry earlier this week.

In America, a number of smaller outlets have inadvertently put their copies on display before the appointed hour. In Indianapolis, a number of outlets of the Osco drugstore made the same mistake as the Brooklyn shop, provoking a run on their few copies before they realised their mistake.