With a release as widely anticipated as the 4th Edition of Dungeons and Dragons, anything that gets out early is bound to attract attention, and it appears that both physical copies and BitTorrent downloads have leaked out this week.
Posts on ENWorld indicate that Buy.com began shipping copies of the three D&D 4E books last Friday, on May 23rd, two weeks before the scheduled street date of June 6th. We asked publisher Wizards of the Coast for comment on the early release. “Be assured that Wizards of the Coast does not take these issues lightly,” a WotC spokesperson responded. “We are looking into the matter and working with our retail and distribution partners to make sure that books go out as planned. From what we can gather so far, this appears to be an isolated incident.”
The books have also appeared on Bit Torrent sites. The appearance of the files is leading some to conclude that the copies were from pre-press computer files, which would indicate a breach at WotC or the printer. Of course, paper products are much less desirable as downloads than music or videos, so the impact on sales will probably be minimal, and perhaps even positive. But the fact that files are available indicate just how difficult it is to control access to something so highly anticipated.