A £10-million security operation, featuring an army of guards, satellite tracking systems and draconian legal contracts, has swung into action to prevent any leak of details of the seventh and final book about the tales of Harry Potter.
As millions around the world eagerly await the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, only its author JK Rowling and some 20 other people, including the book’s editors and illustrators, know Harry's fate.
When the finished manuscript was taken by hand from London to New York, the lawyer for the American publisher, Scholastic, sat on it during the flight. With each successive Potter book, security has grown.
Nothing has come close, however, to the arrangements for the finale, The Sunday Telegraph said on Sunday.
London-based Bloomsbury, which publishes the Potter books in Britain, has hired secure sites across the country to house the book prior to distribution early this week. It is understood that several dozen security teams will protect the sites round the clock. Experts say security staff will earn up to £30 an hour with a guard dog, up to £20 without.
Print factory workers in Britain have been threatened with the sack if they leak any details, while German publishers have banned mobile phones and even packed lunches in the printing plant. Some employees reportedly had to work in near-darkness to prevent them reading the book. It is from Tuesday, however, when copies begin to be sent out to retailers, that the most crucial part of the security operation will come into effect. The trucks Bloomsbury will use are fitted with satellite tracking systems costing up to £1,000 each, which will reveal whether any of the vehicles deviated from their intended route.
At one of the world's biggest booksellers, Barnes and Noble in America, the books are being kept in padlocked trucks at the insistence of Scholastic. Online retailer Amazon has cordoned off special sections of its warehouse to ensure restricted access.