After years of adamant refusal to consider the idea of releasing electronic versions of her amazingly popular Harry Potter series, there are rumors circulating that J.K. Rowling is giving serious thought to a release for Kindles and Kindle-like devices. While it is doubtful that there are all that many people out there who are interested in reading the Harry Potter series who have also failed to procure the books at this point, considering the impressive sales figures, it’s hard to believe that this would be anything but a genius money-making decision for Rowling. There have, in fact, been reports that this could benefit the author somewhere in the realm of £100 million. The interesting part of all this is not so much how great it would be to Rowling’s already bulging bank figures as how important it could be for the eReading world.
I’ve seen reports that as much as 20% of the total book sales this past year came from eBooks. For a new format, that’s huge. It’s a slow process, though. For the most part this stems from the fact that to truly get into the eReader experience you need a dedicated device like the Kindle. Sure, lots of people get by with reading on their phones, PCs, or tablets, but it doesn’t work for everybody. That means that the potential customer needs to lay out over a hundred dollars for a product that may or may not be of any use to them as far as they can tell. That’s a pretty big deal for most people.
What this move would mean, however, is the equivalent of a rock star endorsement. People who love the books will be more willing to grab something like a Kindle now that their favorite author has been swayed from her position of animosity toward the platform, especially since it means having access to their books in their entirety all at once without sustaining minor back injuries to carry them around. Even more important, perhaps, will be the parents who are swayed to provide Kindles for their children as a result of the release. As with any new technology, the earlier you are introduced to it, the more naturally you will be able to adapt to it, in general. The sooner that eReaders become a part of the everyday lives of consumers and soon-to-be consumers, the faster mass adoption will proceed.
Admittedly, this is all nothing but speculation. The power of the Harry Potter branding is clear, though. We have movies, candy, peripheral reference books, and even a whole theme park based on nothing else. It’s become so entrenched in literature today that you will see countless blurbs comparing anything with a magic wand or a contemporary setting connected to magic with the Harry Potter series. I don’t see any real way to get around a major impact. While I don’t view this as anything groundbreaking in terms of decision making on behalf of an author, the impact as it all goes forward will be fascinating to watch and should be unlikely to do anything but help eReading as a whole.