New 'Harry Potter' dumped in field
LONDON, England (CNN) -- One of the publishing world's most closely guarded secrets -- the latest book in the best-selling Harry Potter series -- has been let out of the bag and left in a field.
Publishers of author J.K. Rowling's boy wizard saga launched an investigation Tuesday after The Sun newspaper reported that advance copies of the much-anticipated fifth instalment were found in a field in eastern England.
They believe two first editions of "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix'' -- due for release June 21 -- had been stolen from a nearby printworks.
"The matter is currently under investigation, with the suspicion that theft is involved,'' Rowling's publisher, Bloomsbury Publishing, and agent said in a joint statement.
Bloomsbury said it had not reported the incident to police and declined to give more details, Reuters reported.
The Sun said the copies were found Monday by a 40-year-old father-of-two as he walked near a printworks in the small town of Bungay, Suffolk. It said the man contacted the paper and handed over the books.
The copies will be returned to the publishers and no details of the plot will be printed in the paper, the Sun said.
Printer Clays Ltd. -- located close to where the discovery was made -- is printing hundreds of thousands of copies of the new book. The company declined to comment on the incident, Reuters reported.
The first four books about the teenage wizard have now sold almost 200 million copies in 55 languages and 200 countries. The Harry Potter phenomenon has also reached the silver screen and made its author a very rich person.
Rowling, who wrote the first book as a penniless single mother in an Edinburgh cafe, is now richer than Queen Elizabeth with a personal fortune put at £280 million ($450 million).
The first three Harry Potter books were released in 1998 and 1999.
By the debut of the fourth book, "Goblet of Fire," in July, 2000, interest had risen to such levels that bookstores around the world were offering midnight parties to welcome customers.
The combined first printing in North America and the United Kingdom exceeded 4.5 million copies -- still a publishing record.
The first two books, "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" ("Sorcerer's Stone" in the United States) and "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets," have been made into top-grossing movies by Warner Bros., a division of AOL Time Warner which also owns CNN.com.
The first movie grossed almost $1 billion worldwide, making it the second-highest grossing movie of all time after "Titanic." The second film has made almost $800 million thus far.