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The magical moment when a book is opened for the first time by a reader is by far the greatest moment for not only a book lover but by the author. The moment a story begins is not when it is written by the author but when the reader takes the story as their own. A story for an author is a memory, a dream, an alternate reality that is written down for others to experience. Since the reader is not the original all powerful creator that is the author, the only way for the non-author to take place in the author’s world is by reading the world’s written form, a book. An author wouldn’t be an author if they did not want to share their world to others and the wonders that they personally see in it. It is imperative that the author does everything in their power to make their world a great experience to the reader as possible. Though, each author is different, and how they go about creating such experience and how much of it is given to any one book/story/world is up to them.
One particular way to create a great experience for the reader when the book is written is to be spoiler free when reading. When talking about a content spoiler, Google has defined a spoiler as “a person or thing that spoils something.” Spoilers when talking in this moment are those connected to the storytelling of a book and the author’s attempt to create a good experience by not having it ruined for the community of their work. By not spoiling the story, the reader can experience the book blind, getting rid of any bias and or surprise in the plot. An equivalent outside of the story telling world are surprise parties. If an individual were to tell the birthday recipient that their friends were throwing a party that was known to everyone but the birthday recipient, then that individual would be considered a spoiler for ruining the surprise of a party that usually is not planned by friends.
Examples of spoilers (for books and movies):
• Someone with key information about the story/content of a book or movie that can only be known by taking part in it then telling that information to others that have yet taken part; like telling through word of mouth or form of media the plot twists or an ending to a tv series, movie or book before others have knowing for themselves
• An object created pertaining key information about a book or movie that can only be known by someone that has taken part in the book or movie; like a movie poster, fan made art work, a video or maybe a phrase
Before the late 20th century (the 1990s) thus before the internet world, facing spoilers were mainly done by word of mouth, still effecting people wanting to experience the story just not done at as large of scale that it can be done today. If someone walked out of a movie theater in 1980 and yelled the plot twist to a line of movie goers of the same movie, the plot twist would be ruined for those in line at that movie theater. The same can be said for books, if not a little bit more difficult. You would have to find someone who is reading or plans to read a book that you have also read and spoil it to them; and even then you are not reaching a large audience.
The internet has become a world of connections. Communities are formed around interests, be of books, movies, tv shows, video games and so on, with people coming from all over the world. “Fandoms” are what is heard when describing these communities filled of people called “fans” that practically fall in love with their interest(s). One such popular community is the Harry Potter fandom that revolves around the magical world of Harry Potter created by J.K. Rowling, with first her books and then the adaptations of her books into movies, and play.
Though it took time for this Harry Potter community to grow, grow it did. The community starting from the love of the books of Harry Potter became a home away from home for those in it. This community as it follows the book series as it was written in real time or as the books came out, spoilers were a natural fear for the ever growing community. With online media, spoilers would be able to effect an even larger scale than before. Give it the books were published in the early days of online social media, it was never the less a problem for J.K Rowling creating a spoiler free experience for the hard core fans of her very popular book series. But Rowling and her publisher Bloomsbury Publishing were up for maintaining that experience. Both Rowling and Bloomsbury made serious precautions when keeping the Harry Potter books’ story a secret in order to give fans of the books the best chance of not facing spoilers; going as far as limiting the handling of the original manuscripts to just the bare minimum of people to get the manuscript into book form and then delivered to bookstores.
Obviously books have a date when they will be on bookshelves to be sold in bookstores, and worldwide if popular enough. But books need to be at the stores before that date in order for them to be on shelves to then take. Books would be in store not on exactly their release date but at least the day before, technically making the moment the clock struck midnight the moment the book can be sold. Now normally stores are closed during the day change making the book only available for purchase when the store opens. However, for popular books like Rowling’s Harry Potter, her books are available the moment it hits 12 am. Thus giving anyone willing to wait in lines at bookstores, counting down the seconds till midnight the absolute best chance to read the book before spoilers travel the internet. These people waiting for midnight to strike, became known as Midnight Kids, fans waiting till midnight to read the story without much risk of spoilers.
Having the moment when the reader opens the book and not know what they’re about to get themselves into creates more value of an experience to the reader. Having a new story read first by one’s eyes than through another’s can impact the entire reading experience. An author’s job is technically only to write down what’s in their mind and hope that what is written down creates enough of an experience. But now a days, especially for anticipated books, the experience of a book’s story can be spoiled, the internet being a big part of that. A reader could forego the internet or talking to their fandom until they are done reading, but technology has become very integrated into people’s lives that holding off on the internet may be pretty hard. Maybe books will need more midnight releases instead for just popular ones. Or maybe bookstore should take the plunge into being 24 hours? I guess it all depends on how far an author is willing to keep the element of surprise.
Are you a Midnight Kid? Would you support your local 24 hour bookstore? Did you stand in line for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows?