Thursday, June 23, 2011

Overdrive to handle Harry Potter e-books - UPDATE


You can skip to the update.'s Philip Jones and Charlotte Williams confirm that "J K Rowling to sell Harry Potter e-books exclusively from Pottermore website."

That's a longish, very detailed article, and Kindle-edition readers of this blog will find the linked Bookseller page not a pain to load because it's mainly text.

  Kindle 3 users: When you click on the link to the story and get the page, it will be sized to screen width and so the words will be tiny.

  You will, though, be placed right ON the article, which means that you can press MENU button and then select Article Mode to get just the body of the text to read on your Kindle and the size of the text will be normal and in good screen contrast.

A few points from the article:
' J K Rowling has confirmed that she will release paid-for e-book versions of her incredibly successful Harry Potter books from her new website Pottermore "in partnership with J K Rowling’s publishers worldwide".  The news was unveiled via YouTube and at a press conference held today (23rd June).  Her UK publisher Bloomsbury will receive a share of the revenues, which put out a Stock Exchange announcement to make clear the revenue was already in its forecasts.

The e-books will be released in October, and will be available only on the Pottermore website, but will be compatible across a range of devices, including Amazon's Kindle.  The facility is being provided by the e-book vendor OverDrive, which also serves the Waterstone's and W H Smith's e-book stores, as well as being a major player in the library e-book lending market.

Rowling has written extensive new material - 18,000 words - about the characters, places and objects in the much-loved stories, which will inform, inspire and entertain readers as they journey through the storylines for the books.  The website itself has been built in partnership with Sony. It is ultimately intended to become an online reading experience, "extending the relevance of Harry Potter to new generations of readers, while still appealing to existing fans".

On the decision to sell direct to the reader, not through another e-tailer, J K Rowling said today: "It was quite straightforward for me . . . It means we can guarantee people everywhere are getting the same experience and at the same time. I am personally lucky to have the resources to do it myself and I could do it, I think, right. I could find the right people and take my time. There was no other option for the fans or for me.  Potter fandom was probably one of the first with an online community . . . so this felt like an extension of" Neil Blair, her agent at Christopher Little, added that another motivation was that they did not want to restrict the content to a particular device. '

Pottermore CEO Rod Henwood also mentioned they'll set the pricing.

Rowling has a rather amazing statement there, since she had long resisted putting the series in e-book format.
' "It is my view that you can't hold back progress.  I love printed paper . . . This year for the first time I have downloaded e-books and it's miraculous . . . I feel good about bringing it into this world."  She added that she did come up with the name "Pottermore". '

She talks about the back stories of characters and not knowing if the additional material will ever appear in a printed version, adds that there might 'possibly' be a Harry Potter encyclopaedia and if so, the proceeds would go to charity.

Also included is her description of how this all came about.

While the site won't open until October, 1 million winners of a competition will get exclusive access to the site from the end of July.  They really know how to market all this.

Metro (UK)'s Tom Phillips adds considerably more detail.

The Potter e-books will be DRM-free.  The article's headline says the news is sparking Twitter confusion.  Phillips' story states that the website will actually carry "the full text of the books, plus what appears to be a combination of a social network and a game, letting readers explore other previously unpublished material and submit their own additions to the site.
' The website will allows fans to access material cut from the original books and read insights from the author along the way, and will include a game-style mechanism based on the contents of the boosk - where readers gain house points for completing tasks, and use an in-game currency of galleons.

But the announcement left some on Twitter confused by what exactly the website added to the Harry Potter experience. The BBC's technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones tweeted: 'So Pottermore is an interactive website with some nice touches - but main aim seems to be platform to sell ebooks.
Fans will be able to register from today for an online challenge on the website on July 31 - which happens to be Harry Potter's birthday... [ to be among the first million successful challengers to see the full site 2 months earlier ].
The site immediately experienced some problems from the early flood of people applying, with some unable to register - the Pottermore Twitter account tweeted: 'We know a lot of people are unable to submit their email address right now. Please be patient with us and try again in a few minutes.'   '

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  1. Guess I'll have to just swap Kindles with my husband then, if he decides he wants to read HP? Or - I wonder whether, and how, some sharing within, say, families might be managed.

    That's just a 'ferinstance'. My husband is not going to read HP. I was initially holding out for v. 7 to be published so I could buy the slipcased set; then decided not to buy until they become available as e-editions, because I don't want the physical set on my already-full shelves. I've paid not a dime so far to read them, beyond my tax dollars to the library, and I have read them all. What Rowling ends up doing with pricing and access privileges will determine whether I finally buy the set, I guess. I do hope that what she does proves to be both sensible and friction-free, because I am looking for reasons *to* buy the set -- not reasons *not* to, so Rowling would have to do something pretty egregious to mess this up. But it could happen!

  2. Anonymous wife :-)
    I did an update which mentioned the books will be DRM-free.

    Under normal circumstances, publishers will allow Amazon to let up to 6 Kindles belonging to one account share a purchased book at no additional cost.

    Good luck that Rowling & co. use sense on this, pricing-wise.

  3. Yeah, but if they aren't sold in Kindle Store, no note sharing, popular highlights, syncing etc. (well. calibre can help with the syncing part).

    DRM free will be welcome however. Maybe it will create some momentum for more of same.

  4. If the books will be available across all devices and it will be Overdrive that handles the sales, does that mean that the Kindle library feature (partnered with Overdrive) will be available by October? If so, it might mean that though the books will be bought outside Amazon, all the sharing of notes and things might still work.

  5. Tom,
    As K. Hugh says, Overdrive will take care of the public library book lending process but Amazon will do note backup, sharing, book syncing, etc.

    However, that's because Amazon will actually deliver the books and have a copy.

    In Rowling's case, Amazon won't deliver the books, but they always carry her books and they need to have only one of each to have the server model against which backups and sync'g are done.

    How they negotiate rights to to do that (go along with the watermarking or whatever they're planning to do?) is the question.


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