Pottermore e-book store sells '£3m in first month'

The Pottermore e-book store sold £3m-worth of Harry Potter e-books in its first month, the company's chief executive has revealed, while the Pottermore experience, which allows fans to explore the Harry Potter universe online, added five million new users in the two weeks since its own launch on 14th April.

Charlie Redmayne said sales at the online shop, which went live on 27th March, had been driven first by pent-up demand, with the sales value high because of the number of Harry Potter fans buying the e-book bundle, priced at £38.64, a discount of 14% on the cost of buying the seven titles individually.

Redmayne said the sales had been above budget, and continued to outpace expectations. He had earlier revealed that more than £1m of Potter e-books had been sold in the first three days.

"Over the past two weeks we've seen sales settle down, but they remain very significant, and way beyond what we originally budgeted for." He added that sales of the physical copies of the seven titles had also increased, and that because of the site's light-touch Digital Rights Management, piracy had diminished.

"Obviously there were fears piracy would increase as a result of being DRM-free, and that sales of the e-books would cannibalise sales of the physical titles, but we were delighted to see sales of the physical books go up, and piracy come down."

Redmayne said that though there had been an increase in piracy immediately after launch, the community had rejected these illegal versions because of how the e-books were brought to market. "We have demonstrated that if you make these books available in the way that people want them, and on a platform that is accessible to them, and at a price they are happy with, then then generally people will chose to buy them."

Redmayne also highlighted how well the e-books had done in the library community with  digital books occupying 51 of 80 possible positions on library e-book supplier OverDrive's most downloaded e-books from the library lists for the US, UK, Canada, and Australia. He said Pottermore would continue to look at ways encouraging new readers to experience the Harry Potter books, either through library loans or sampling.

Pottermore, the Harry Potter experience, has seen 22m visits from 7m unique users in its first two weeks, generating more than 1bn page impressions, with the average user visiting 47 pages, spending 25 minutes on the site.

Redmayne said there had been 4.2m attempts to make potions, with a success rate of just 32%. In those first two weeks there had been 39.9m "wizard duels" with the "full body bind" spell the most popular, and "pimple jinx" the least used. He said that after two weeks 5m new users had registered, with perhaps half of those already sorted into houses, such as Gryffindor and Ravenclaw.

"Given how we launched it, at 8.15 in the morning when most people were asleep, almost anti-marketing it, we were very pleased. It has been amazingly successful and shows the power of the Harry Potter brand," he said.

Redmayne added that the release of book two, The Chamber of Secrets, was still "weeks away", but that the site would be adding new interactive elements and community tools over the next few weeks. "It's a fantastic experience, but not yet as good as its going to be. We are working on book two now, I'm very pleased with some of the pages I've seen, and it will be coming as soon as possible."

Remayne said Pottermore would ratchet up its marketing activities around the launch of book two.