It took J.K. Rowling a while but she has finally unveiled the future of her Harry Potter ebooks. Last week’s announcement of Pottermore saw the arrival of her new online portal with the exclusive sales rights to her digital works, and it featured two important publishing elements: a direct sales model and no DRM to be seen.
Harry Potter e-books make use of digital watermarking. Every copy sold is traceable to its origin of sale and customer, allowing the user free choice as to how they use their product while maintaining the means to identify any piracy that may occurr.
Rowling realized the popularity of her Potter franchise and knows she can make good use of this to grow the direct relationship with her readers. With the advent of Pottermore, Rowling has no use for the big names in the ebook retail space. Why settle for a cut of the royalty or a top-line on sales on a product for which she owns the complete digital rights, when she can keep it all?
"Pottermore has responded to retailers’ frustrations over being unable to sell the Harry Potter e-books, saying the idea was to “ensure ease of availability across all reading devices”.
Retailers hit out at J K Rowling’s decision to sell the Harry Potter e-books directly through her Pottermore website, which will launch in October. A Pottermore spokesperson said: “Pottermore is designed to encourage the reading and re-reading of the Harry Potter books in all formats and editions, both print and digital, to both existing and new generations of readers. We think this will have a positive effect on those selling physical books as well as on sales of digital ones.”
He added: “The decision to make e-books exclusive to the site was to ensure ease of availability across all reading devices and to the widest possible audience and also to support the ultimate intention of the site to be an online reading experience.”
Excerpt, Full article in The Bookseller.
Rowling had the good fortune that there were no digital rights signed over when she made the publishing deal with Bloomsbury Publishing Plc. or they would have acquired both the print and ebook rights to the books. Rowling not only has full control and ownership, but has said she offered to give both her UK and US publishers a share in the sales.
Pottermore is being developed in partnership with Sony. Warner Brothers owns the Harry Potter film and game rights. This leaves an open ended digital sales stream where no advantage can be had by any one party by locking users into a specific reading device or hardware requirement, or create a platform specific game or other form of content limiting the use of the Harry Potter digital franchise.