Now that J.K. Rowling’s last major addition to the Harry Potter experience, the Pottermore site, is about to go live, people are starting to get excited about the series all over again. The Pottermore Beta is ongoing, but things have advanced to the point where the eBooks are finally available and launch is expected some time in April. Kindle owners can now pick up the series right through the Kindle Store’s product listing, or by going directly to the Pottermore shop.
Oddly enough, the way Rowling has insisted on keeping control of her work entirely in the hands of her own site has caused Amazon some issues already. They have clearly made an effort to accommodate in order to get Kindle customers easy access to the collection, to the point of linking potential customers off-site to the Pottermore store, but launch did not go as smoothly as anticipated. For the first several hours after Harry Potter came to the Kindle, any number of popular selections were completely unavailable for purchase.
Anybody looking to get their own copy of the newer children’s book series, The Hunger Games, on Tuesday morning was presented with a large green button claiming that “This title is not available for customers from: United States” where the Buy button would normally have been. Presumably this only affected US readers, but I was unable to confirm either way before the problem was resolved early that afternoon.
There is always some chance of error when attempting to integrate services between different major projects like this. That is especially true in the case of something as complex as Amazon.com and the Kindle Store. It is strange to think of Amazon having trouble with anything as trivial as accommodating the number of Harry Potter fans who wanted to read their favorite books on the Kindle for the first time, but sometimes the problem is a bit more complex than dealing with heavy loads.
For the future, this has a few implications. If more major authors follow in Rowling’s footsteps, which seems unlikely but will always be an option, the staff at Amazon now have slightly more experience with integration and a good idea of some of the likely bugs that go along with it. This means that such business relationships will almost certainly go a bit more smoothly.
It also might emphasize for people how important it is to always have multiple sales avenues. While Amazon’s service is second to none when it comes to self-publishers and readers, there is always a chance for error when dealing with a single source. Some authors choose, quite profitably, to go with the KDP Select option and increase their earnings through book lending. For those who aren’t going that way, it might be useful to maintain a secondary personal store just in case a glitch like this occurs.
There are a lot of Kindle owners out there, many of whom would be willing to check author sites if the Kindle Store was offline. A lost sale is a lost sale, even if you’re talking about just a few hours of outage.