Baltimore Sun

China races Harry Potter to stores

The Chinese-language publisher of the latest Harry Potter adventure said Thursday it is rushing the book into stores this weekend ahead of schedule, hoping to thwart pirates who are selling badly translated copies.

"Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" will be released Sunday, 10 days before it was due out, said a spokesman for People's Literature Publishing House. He said the company was printing 800,000 copies -- a huge number for a Chinese book.

The company will offer rewards for people who turn in pirates, said the spokesman, who would give only his surname, Wang.

"We moved up publication because we found some Chinese versions translated on the Internet and some illegal versions of the book," Wang said. "We have read some of the books and found there are many mistakes and mistranslations."

Chinese-language editions of J.K. Rowling's first four books about the boy wizard, known to fans in China as Ha-li-bo-te, have sold millions of copies since their launch in October 2001. Worldwide, the books have sold more than 200 million copies in 50 languages.

The English-language edition of "Order of the Phoenix" went on sale in Beijing on June 21 as part of its global launch. In July, fans began posting rough, often confusing translations on Internet sites.

The earlier books also have fallen victim to China's thriving industry in copyright piracy. Last year, an unknown Chinese author produced an entire fake adventure, "Harry Potter and Leopard-Walk-Up-To-Dragon," which was attributed to Rowling.

Authorized Chinese versions of earlier books were produced by a team of veteran children's book translators.

Wang said People's Literature has asked Chinese authorities for help in enforcing its rights to the Chinese translation and will pay for tips leading to pirates.

"The size of the reward will depend on how big the piracy is and how many copies are seized," he said.