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Deathly Hallows - Buy It Now!

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Here's a Friday morning poser for you: a US book distributor accidently sends you a copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows pretty well a week before the official launch of what's expected to be the fastest-selling book of all time. What do you do?

Yup. You immediately stick it on eBay to see if you can't get your snout in the Harry Potter trough.

Or, if you're the Baltimore Sun, you post a review which, while not giving much away, dismisses the seventh outing of the boy wizard as lacking "much of the charm and humour that distinguished the earlier novels".

The end result? A very angry JK Rowling and litigation on the part of Scholastic - the book's US publisher - which has issued a statement confirming it's launched "immediate legal action" against distributor Levy Home Entertainment and online retailer DeepDiscount.com.

A Scholastic spokesman declared: "Some individuals have received copies of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows through the mail, beginning on Tuesday, 17 July, as a result of a breach of the on-sale agreement by the distributor, Levy Home Entertainment, and shipments made by DeepDiscount.com, a customer of that distributor."

For its part, DeepDiscount.com has also promised "immediate action" to discover just how it blew the lid on the most-hyped book in history. The company's vice president Andrew Moscrip said: "All I can really tell you at this point is that we are taking this matter very seriously. I have to just say 'no comment' because I just don't know."

Down at eBay, meanwhile, buyers have mercifully resisted the temptation to enter into a feeding frenzy for the rogue tomes, with most auctions currently attracting bids below the recommended retail price. Accordingly, the vendors will have to find another way to fund their kids' way through college, while JK Rowling prepares for her coronation as "the richest author in the known universe - ever". ®

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