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Rush Is on for Harry Potter Knockoffs in China


In China, copyright pirates are racing to get out their version of the latest Harry Potter film before the real one makes it to theaters. And fake books are in the works too, as NPR's Louisa Lim reports from Shanghai. Faking Harry Potter books has become a cottage industry in China.

LOUISA LIM: Don't worry if you've never heard of these books. They're totally made up with no resemblance to the real thing. As die hard fan Chu Shu Li(ph) found out...


CHU SHU LI: For example, in one book Harry transferred at school from Hogwarts to a Chinese magic school. That's very ridiculous. And some professors are Chinese and they teach the ancient Chinese magic.

LIM: Fan club members Yin Pingping(ph) and Wu Tian(ph) stake out their positions.

YIN PINGPING: Harry Potter is my belief, so I would never let myself buy or to read these books. If I accept this, it's a pollute for my belief.

WU TIAN: The first fake book - some friends gave it to me because the copyright book is quite expensive.

LIM: And that's the rub. Non-copyright versions cost a tenth of the real thing. Nine million real Harry Potter books have sold in China. Most fans, like Chu Shu Li, believe sales of the counterfeit versions have been much higher.


LIM: Actually, the pirate Harry Potter books make Harry Potter so popular in China. We don't want to believe it but it's just true.

LIM: This is partly due to the difficulty of translating terms like quidditch, quaffles and muggles. The local publisher, the People's Literature Press, needs three months to finish a Chinese translation. But the copyright pirates can do it in as little as five days. Maybe the ministry of magic is needed. But Pang Kai Xiong(ph), the deputy chief of the People's Literature Press, says China's own government is on the case.

PANG KAI XIONG: (Through translator) From book five on, every year before the Chinese Harry Potter hits the market, China's Anti-Pornography and Anti-Illegal Publications Office issues a special notice requiring local booksellers to step up the fight against fake Harry Potter books.

LIM: One young author, who I'll call Wang Lan(ph), has been part of the dark side of the industry. Her last three self-help books were printed under another name so the publishers could avoid paying her royalties.

WANG LAN: (Through translator) They might think up a foreign name. That sells more books. They might use a famous person's name or just any old name.

LIM: Louisa Lim, NPR News, Shanghai. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.