Potter out of the Bag: 1,200 Readers Know Harry's Fate

Chicago-area distributor began shipping the top-secret book Tuesday.

July 18, 2007 — -- A small group of lucky fans got their copy of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" early.

An online store called DeepDiscounts.com apparently shipped orders of the book early and is now being sued by Scholastic, the book's publisher. The early shipments went out to about 1,200 fans.

Fearing public leaks of the book's contents, Scholastic is urging fans to keep "the packages hidden" until midnight July 21, the official release date of the book, so as not to read the book early and possibly spoil the story for other readers.

Despite the publisher's pleas, it's hard to imagine that any die-hard fan who gets the book early can resist reading it once it arrives on the doorstep.

Photographs of what appeared to be the highly anticipated "Potter" finale started to appear on the Internet earlier this week. This is the seventh and final book in the series, and -- as for the past Potter releases -- countless midnight parties are scheduled for Friday night into Saturday morning.

In a statement this afternoon, Scholastic said it was taking legal action against DeepDiscount.com and book distributor Levy Home Entertainment. Neither company was available for comment when ABC News called.

Levy Home Entertainment is a Chicago-area company that distributes books to big retail chains like K-Mart, Target, Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Toys 'R Us and others. The company also provides direct distribution to consumers for Web sites, including DeepDiscount.com.

"We are also making a direct appeal to the Harry Potter fans who bought their books from DeepDiscount.com and may receive copies early requesting that they keep the packages hidden until midnight on July 21st," Scholastic said in a statement.

Since 2001, Scholastic has sold more than 27.7 million copies of the book in the United States alone. More than 320 million copies of the first six books have sold worldwide.

Scholastic said it is also "especially grateful" to other retailers and distributors for their "careful attention to keeping the books secure" until the release.

"And we ask everyone, especially the media, to preserve the fun and excitement for fans everywhere," the company said. "The fans themselves have made it abundantly clear that they are looking forward to going to the midnight parties, receiving their very own copy of the book and finally getting to read the book they have so anxiously awaited."