News

Confirmed: J K Rowling to sell Harry Potter e-books

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 JKRowling.com." 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.

OverDrive's involvement was revealed today at the UK press conference by Pottermore c.e.o Rod Henwood. Henwood said: "Overdrive are providing the platform for the e-books." Speaking to The Bookseller about whether the physical books will also feature on the site's shop, Henwood said: "[The physical publishers] are partners in this, you will see their presence prominent in the shop when it is launched, and they are involved in marketing the site. It is a very collaborative project, all contributing to the marketing and the activity. Their interests are aligned with ours." He added: "We won't sell physical books directly, certainly not on the site, but we will be providing links to publishers websites and if they sell the [physical] books there, people can obviously buy them."

With the e-books' availability, Henwood said: "We want to make sure anyone who buys it, can read it on any device, we are talking to the Kindles, the Apples, the Googles, Barnes & Noble to make sure they are compatible. We set the pricing, we maintain the policy of making them available to as many readers as possible."

Rowling talked about going into the digital format for the first time, and said: "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 also said that at the time of writing the Potter series, she always knew she had more content than it would be possible to include in the books, in particular the back stories' of characters such as Professor McGonagall, and so this was a way for her to share that content. Some of the content will also be entirely new, with Rowling saying it was “scary” how easy it was for her to return to that world.

Asked if the additional material on the site will ever appear in a printed version, Rowling said: "I don't know at the moment. The world has kind of outstripped me. Back in 1995 I knew I was generating a lot more material than would appear in the book." She said there could "possibly" be a Harry Potter encyclopaedia, but said if she ever did do this, all proceeds would go to charity.

On the idea behind the site, Rowling said: "Any idea came out of discussions between Neil [Blair] and myself. We knew there was a big demand for e-books but I wanted it to be something more than that." She acknowledged there had been a lot of speculation about the site being a game, but said: "I wanted to pull it back to reading, to the literary experience. I've had a lot to do with virtually every aspect of the site." She said the site being free was part of “the give-back” to fans.

The site will not officially open until October, but one million winners of a Harry Potter competition will be given exclusive access to the site from the end of July.

Sarah Odedina, publisher & international editor-in-chief of Bloomsbury Children's Books said: "Bloomsbury is delighted to be partnering with Pottermore in this exciting new chapter for the Harry Potter books. It brings the books and the digital age together in an innovative and unique way."

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How is it that amazon won't allow anyone else to sell kindle books from a non-amazon website? Unless this page simply provides a 'buy this book' link to amazon, surely this will have to open the floodgates for other people/publishers/booksellers to be able to sell kindle books from their own websites?

Yes they do. Just check out the brilliant www.lovereading.co.uk who sell print books, ePubs, kindle and iBooks from the same site

"extending the relevance of Harry Potter to new generations of readers, while still appealing to existing fans".

I am a massive Potter fan but I would hardly classify it as "relevant". Relevant to what? Plus, 18,000 new words is not enough to make me want to buy an ebook reader and have to download the whole 1,000,000+ word saga all over again. Hurry up with the Encyclopedia and then knock it on the head.

Kindle books are available all over the place, you just might not be recognizing them. azw or something like that is the format you're used to seeing, but mobi books are compatible with Kindle and widely available if you know where to look. ;)

Is there any way whatsoever to get a non amazon-wrapped kindle file to a kindle device without connecting to a computer?

Use the Kindeliarmus spell.

What you need is a bright gren Cybook, available at Waterstone's for the same price as a Kindle and... what's that... wifi?
No.
No Wifi...

Wait!
Come back!!

Perhaps even a bright GREEN Cybook... I'm not sure what 'gren' is!

Though Amazon is the major source of Kindle books, there are many, many places to get Kindle books. Check the Gutenberg project - you can go there directly with a Kindle: http://m.gutenberg.org/ - and download thousands of books for free.

See many (many!) Kindle enthusiast sites (eg. http://kindleworld.blogspot.com/) for information on how to use the Kindle with Amazon *and* non-Amazon sourced books.

Yes - email it to your kindle.com email address. Go to www.amazon.co.uk/myk and click on "Manage your devices" if you don't know what your kindle.com email address is.

Of course your Kindle will need to have wifi or 3G enabled to receive the book as you're not using a wire to a PC, but presumably that goes without saying.

I wouldn't say that OverDrive is the best choice for this and they are by far not a leader in the eBook lending arena. Many others are ahead of them and honestly eBook lending has only been around for a year or so, OverDrive is just getting into it, so being a leader they are not.

I'll be happy I don't have to use OD's app to read the eBooks, the UI is not pleasant and just cumbersome, much rather read it on my iPad in iBooks or some other app.

I assume that the pottermore site will be selling the UK english versions of the books as ebooks.

I wonder if the US english versions and translations into other languages will also be available.

Don't think that'll work with an EPUB file - which I'm assuming is what the OP has.

We, in the USA, enjoy the UK English version. I go out of my way to purchase it. The assumption that we could not understand the UK English is just a little insulting. Is not the point of reading to EXPAND your vocabulary and bring you out of your tiny sphere into the larger and more wonderful world? So it has always puzzled me why there is such a distinction made and/or two versions printed.

Any book in mobipocket format (.mobi or .prc) without DRM can be read by a Kindle. The .azw format is just mobipocket with a DRM wrapper. Plenty of small presses sell .mobi books and many Kindle users read them.

"Potter fandom was probably one of the first with an online community . . ."

WTF? Just because Rowling never went online until she had fans hardly makes Harry Potter the first with an online community. I'd say H.P. is probably the 150th+ with an "online community" of fans.

How is it that amazon won't allow anyone else to sell kindle books from a non-amazon website? Unless this page simply provides a 'buy this book' link to amazon, surely this will have to open the floodgates for other people/publishers/booksellers to be able to sell kindle books from their own websites?

Any book in mobipocket format (.mobi or .prc) without DRM can be read by a Kindle. The .azw format is just mobipocket with a DRM wrapper. Plenty of small presses sell .mobi books and many Kindle users read them.

Yes they do. Just check out the brilliant www.lovereading.co.uk who sell print books, ePubs, kindle and iBooks from the same site

"extending the relevance of Harry Potter to new generations of readers, while still appealing to existing fans".

I am a massive Potter fan but I would hardly classify it as "relevant". Relevant to what? Plus, 18,000 new words is not enough to make me want to buy an ebook reader and have to download the whole 1,000,000+ word saga all over again. Hurry up with the Encyclopedia and then knock it on the head.

Kindle books are available all over the place, you just might not be recognizing them. azw or something like that is the format you're used to seeing, but mobi books are compatible with Kindle and widely available if you know where to look. ;)

Is there any way whatsoever to get a non amazon-wrapped kindle file to a kindle device without connecting to a computer?

Use the Kindeliarmus spell.

Yes - email it to your kindle.com email address. Go to www.amazon.co.uk/myk and click on "Manage your devices" if you don't know what your kindle.com email address is.

Of course your Kindle will need to have wifi or 3G enabled to receive the book as you're not using a wire to a PC, but presumably that goes without saying.

Don't think that'll work with an EPUB file - which I'm assuming is what the OP has.

What you need is a bright gren Cybook, available at Waterstone's for the same price as a Kindle and... what's that... wifi?
No.
No Wifi...

Wait!
Come back!!

Perhaps even a bright GREEN Cybook... I'm not sure what 'gren' is!

Though Amazon is the major source of Kindle books, there are many, many places to get Kindle books. Check the Gutenberg project - you can go there directly with a Kindle: http://m.gutenberg.org/ - and download thousands of books for free.

See many (many!) Kindle enthusiast sites (eg. http://kindleworld.blogspot.com/) for information on how to use the Kindle with Amazon *and* non-Amazon sourced books.

I wouldn't say that OverDrive is the best choice for this and they are by far not a leader in the eBook lending arena. Many others are ahead of them and honestly eBook lending has only been around for a year or so, OverDrive is just getting into it, so being a leader they are not.

I'll be happy I don't have to use OD's app to read the eBooks, the UI is not pleasant and just cumbersome, much rather read it on my iPad in iBooks or some other app.

I assume that the pottermore site will be selling the UK english versions of the books as ebooks.

I wonder if the US english versions and translations into other languages will also be available.

We, in the USA, enjoy the UK English version. I go out of my way to purchase it. The assumption that we could not understand the UK English is just a little insulting. Is not the point of reading to EXPAND your vocabulary and bring you out of your tiny sphere into the larger and more wonderful world? So it has always puzzled me why there is such a distinction made and/or two versions printed.

"Potter fandom was probably one of the first with an online community . . ."

WTF? Just because Rowling never went online until she had fans hardly makes Harry Potter the first with an online community. I'd say H.P. is probably the 150th+ with an "online community" of fans.