Book Embargoes: Hunger Games Fans, Would You Take a Sneak Peek of Mockingjay?

7 years ago

Sometimes a book comes along that, to the fans and publishers, is a big deal. Not wanting any of the details to leak, the publishers put the book under lock and key. Newspapers don’t get review copies. Book stores don’t put it on the shelves until midnight. It’s a book embargo.

If you are a Harry Potter or Twilight fan you’re familiar with them. You itch to get your hands on the books but you absolutely, do not want anything to do with spoilers. When the last Harry Potter book came out, I swore I wouldn’t watch television, read the Internet or leave my house until I finished reading it for fear of spoilers. Yes, really. I did end up leaving my apartment to go to the bakery for an emergency Sunday morning chocolatine run, but aside from that, I stayed huddled on my couch reading and staying away from anyone who would spoil it for me.

Embargoed books, in my experience, are usually part of a series. The latest book to hit the embargo circuit is Suzanne Collins' Mockingjay, the final book the Hunger Games trilogy. We all want to know what happens with Katniss. Team Gale and Team Peeta are preparing for a battle royale and waiting to see who will get bragging rights. (For the record, I’m Team Katniss Stays Single.) No one wants the book to spoiled, and the book is under heavy embargo. Or so we thought.

Earlier this week I started seeing something in my Twitter feed about a copy of Mockingjay being out in the wild. Reportedly, Andrew Sims, an administrator for, has a copy of it. He even tweeted a picture of it.

He hasn’t posted any spoilers. Smart move on his part, but not surprising coming from a Harry Potter fan. If you see something before everyone else, no one wants to hear about it. I found that out with the release of the first Lord of the Rings movie.

I was working at the college bookstore and one of our buyers had managed to get four passes to the advanced screening of the film. I won one and went off to see it. The screening was ten days before the film was released. When it was over, I wanted to discuss it. I wanted to pick apart what they did wrong and what they got right and how I kind of wanted to move to a hobbit hole in Middle Earth. Aside from a couple of other people at the same bookstore who saw it, there was really no one else to talk to about it. Everyone’s reaction to finding out that I had seen it early was an vehement, “I hate you. Shut up. Don’t say anything.”

When other people got to see it and wanted to talk about the film, it was no longer fresh in my mind. I couldn’t remember the details. It quite simply wasn’t fun.

Seeing films or reading books early is exciting. You get to be in on the secret. Despite what people say about reading being a solitary voice, the discussion is not. When Harry Potter and the final Twilight book were released, everyone hit the Internet to discuss them. I maintain a spoiler-free zone on my book blog, but I had back-channel conversations with people about both books.

When Mockingjay is released on August 24, I know I’m going to run to the bookstore and pick it up after work (or possibly at lunch). I know that I will ignore many things that need to be done that day and quite likely stay up too late to finish it. I know that when I get up on August 25 and turn on my computer, there will dozens of people who did the same thing. We’ll talk about it. We’ll hash it out. Most of us won’t post spoilers.

I understand the temptation of getting an embargoed book. I understand the thrill of being in on the secret. But me? I’ll pass, thanks.

More on Mockingjay being out in the wild at:

Babbling About Books and More

The Examiner

Contributing Editor Sassymonkey also blogs at Sassymonkey and Sassymonkey Reads.

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