This small Indiana city has its own sort of chamber of secrets — a tightlipped publishing company where the hottest book about to hit book shelves is rumored to be printed.
But Muggles here say the word is out: “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” is being manufactured at the town’s RR Donnelley & Sons Co. plant.
“It’s pretty much an open secret except for the employees of RR Donnelley,” said Dave Long, executive vice president of the local chamber of commerce. “They’re not allowed to confirm or deny. Everybody just grins at one another.”
As fans eagerly await the fate of their favorite boy wizard, plant officials and the book’s publisher are maintaining a screen of silence more powerful than Harry’s invisibility cloak.
Scholastic Inc., the U.S. publisher of the J.K. Rowling series, has declined to say where the book is being printed, citing security reasons. A company spokesman did not return a call seeking comment. An RR Donnelley spokesman offered little insight about the book, which will be released at 12:01 a.m. EDT July 21 in the United States.
“We have no comment on any title that we may or may not be printing,” said Donnelley’s Doug Fitzgerald, whose company has headquarters in Chicago and has facilities in 19 countries.
The company might not be talking, but residents are.
Some describe ultra-tight security, saying RR Donnelley forbids employees to bring cell phone cameras to work and checks lunch bags to make sure no one slips out with an advance copy.
“I think they’ve all been sworn to secrecy,” said Joan Woods, who works at the Montgomery County Convention & Visitor’s Bureau in the city about 50 miles northwest of Indianapolis.
Cathy O’Neal lives across the street from RR Donnelley’s red brick facility.
“A lot of people know they’re doing it here,” said O’Neal, whose son is a Harry Potter fan. “I think everybody knows.”
At the Crawfordsville District Public Library in the city’s quaint downtown, only four of the facility’s 30 Harry Potter books remained on a shelf Wednesday.
The library already has a wait list for the final installment but isn’t planning special events for the release because some people have complained about the magic and wizardry contained in Rowling’s series.
“It’s kind of a touchy subject,” said clerk Jennifer Wakolbinger. “We get a lot of complaints from patrons.”
Media coverage of the possible Potter printing has given Crawfordsville another literary connection. Civil War Gen. Lew Wallace wrote “Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ” here, and Wallace’s study is now a museum.
Sharon Kenny, executive director of the visitor’s bureau, said the publicity has been good for the city of 15,000.
“We’ve been on the news a LOT,” Kenny said.
But don’t think residents here have the inside track on the fate of Harry and his friends. They — like the rest of the world — must wait until Saturday.
“It doesn’t matter how old or young you are,” Wakolbinger said. “Everybody can relate to Harry Potter.”