This piece was published in The Manipal Journal and has been reproduced here with permission.
By Shreya Job
On August 1, the Fidelius charm was broken as the secret keepers at Manipal Technology Limited(MTL) revealed they were the only printing press in Asia and one among only three in the world to print Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
Even though MTL likely did not put protection spells to safeguard their secret, they ensured high-level security while printing the eighth Harry Potter story. Mobile phones, cameras and other electronic gadgets were prohibited at the press. The access to the press was also controlled and monitored thoroughly: Constant Vigilance! Within the organization too, the project was kept a secret until the day of release. I doubt they had employees take the Unbreakable Vow but the specifics of the high-profile project were known only to the core team working on it.
A still from the 'Harry Potter and the Cursed Child' stage play; Source: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child/Facebook
Secrecy was paramount to avoid any leaks. Many Potterheads felt the seclusion of the town was a perfect disillusion charm to prevent any suspicion. āI feel betrayed. As people staying in Manipal, we should have known about it so Potterheads could get their hands on it. Manipal must have been chosen because no one would have guessed it would be here,ā says Ashmitha Srinivasan, a second year B.Arch student at Faculty of Architecture, a Potter addict.
However, Manipalās seclusion from the world map was not the reason to print the books here.
āIt has nothing to do with the town,ā says Shashi Ranjan, Vice President and Business Head at Manipal Technologies Limited (Head Secret Keeper). āPeople in the United Kingdom know about MTL and its capabilities. They have personally come and audited our factories so they know that our processes and other requirements needed for such projects are as good as that in United Kingdom. It again links to our Prime Ministerās āMake in Indiaā project,ā he adds.
Having printed 1,60,000 copies in just ten days and with the printing process still continuing, MTL expects to be printing the same for years to come.
This is not the first time Manipal Technology Limited has performed a deed of this kind. MTL caught the snitch in 2012 when they partnered with Hachette UKās subsidiary Little, Brown and Company to print J.K. Rowlingās first non-magic book, Casual Vacancy, printing 80,000 copies.
With 75 years of experience in the field and having close relations with the United Kingdom owing to exports, MTL has built a reputation declaring Indiaās ability in handling embargo titles. Having a considerably large reading population in India, United Kingdom has been looking for a partner in India to expand their magic and facilitate faster delivery, avoid the tax problem and to delay the process of printing by excluding the shipping time. Indisposed of a Firebolt or the Floo network or even a Flying Ford Anglia, transportation still is a time consuming factor in the Muggle world.
However, we have something that is comparably fast ā The Internet. On the very day of release, many Potterheads got their hands on the PDF version of the book; they just couldnāt stand the wait. Spreading like fiendfyre the PDF version seems to be a threat to the hardcopies of the book.
A still from a Harry Potter movie; Source: Harry Potter/Facebook
āPiracy of any from, physical or electronic, does affect sales. Indian laws are not as strict as other countries as far as piracy is concerned. But we have to live with it and try to reach the readers even before they spread out their arms,ā says Shashi Ranjan.
Resuscitating the canon through The Cursed Child, the authors Jack Thorne, John Tiffany and J. K. Rowling have quenched the thirst for more. Yet it is only temporary. Many more ships will set sail and yet another ālast bookā will be expected. For Harry Potter is immortal, each fan a horcrux . Always.
Edited by Prajwal Bhat