For quite a while now, one of the most popular series of books ever to be published has been repeatedly denied to Kindle users. Author J. K. Rowling has absolutely refused to publish, or allow to be published, electronic versions of anything in the Harry Potter series. Countless fan-made copies have circulated the internet over the years, of course, but now after much waiting fans will be able to purchase official copies of their favorite books directly through the author’s new website.
Rowling is somewhat unique among major authors in that she has refused to allow the eBook publication rights to either of her existing publishers. Instead she will be providing the books herself through the much anticipated Harry Potter supplement site ‘Pottermore’. Rowling has stated that she will be making the eBooks available for all major platforms, including the Kindle. What’s perhaps the most interesting part of this is that there has been no indication that these book sales will be through the Kindle Store, iBooks, or any other platform as such. Just that the formats will be available. It has the potential to complicate things a bit for users who prefer a completely computer-free approach to their eReading, but I think that the associated website should do a fair job of keeping the computer portion interesting.
Pottermore is intended to be the important part of this announcement, as interesting as the eBook release will be to many Kindle-owning Potter fans. It seems to be an attempt to create a massive social venue for readers to interact with each other and experience the books in new ways while reading or re-reading the series. Offering eBooks and digital audiobooks as exclusives is only an added draw compared to the opportunity for the audience to grab more official information about the Harry Potter Universe.
One has to wonder, however, if this is meant to be the crowning piece for the Potter experience. It is clear from at least one highly publicized interview with Oprah that while Rowling might eventually come back to the setting, she’d like to move on. We’ve seen everything from books and movies to candy and theme parks. There isn’t a lot of room left to grow short of coming up with completely new material to draw from. It has to be somewhat intimidating to even consider coming back to this universe in a significant way given that the fan base probably has the details down better than the author at this point.
Still, the fact that this means the end to one of the publishing world’s biggest holdouts on eBooks is good news for everybody. In terms of the big picture, it shows that people are coming around and starting to accept where things are going. More importantly, it means more choice for more people. Really, in the end, the most important thing is that this fills a need and gives readers what they want. That’s the most important part of the eReading market no matter how you look at it, whether you’re talking Kindle, Nook, or anything else.