Pottermore threw open its doors this morning and I was among the first to shoulder my way inside. J. K. Rowling finally succumbed to digital pressure and made all of the Harry Potter books available in a variety of e-formats. I was there with my credit card to purchase the complete set--all in the name of blog research, of course.
I'll be completely honest with you here: I'm not a huge fan of the boy wizard. I tried reading the books aloud to my children, but we only got through the first volume before I petered (Pottered?) out. Our repeat trips to Narnia were much more successful.
But--in the name of blog research--I'm willing to give Harry another shot. So I ponied up the plastic and downloaded them to my Kindle just a few hours after they became available. Browsing through the e-versions, I have to say they look pretty damned fine on my screen. Someday--when I'm bedridden with a long illness or serving a short prison sentence--I hope to read all the way through to the end of the series.
But yes, all in all, today was a pretty significant one in the short history of e-books. Here's what the Pottermore site had to say about the deal:
We have partnered with the following services to make it easy to send your Harry Potter eBook to your account. (Subject to reading service availability in your country.): Sony Reader online account (US and Canadian based customers only). Amazon Kindle (available in most countries). Barnes & Noble NOOK (US and Canadian based customers only). Google Play (This service is currently available in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States). The accounts are linked during the download process…Please note you can link to one account per reading service.This is what was posted on Amazon’s page:
Harry Potter Kindle books can be purchased at J.K. Rowling‘s Pottermore Shop, a third-party site. Clicking on “Buy at Pottermore” will take you to Pottermore Shop, where you will need to create a separate account. Like all Kindle books, books purchased from Pottermore are ‘Buy Once, Read Everywhere’ and will be delivered to your Kindle or free Kindle reading apps.And Barnes & Noble chimed in with this:
You’ll be taken to Pottermore.com and asked to sign in or create a new account. Once you do, you’ll immediately get access to this book, and other exclusive writings from J.K. Rowling.Honestly, it was fairly easy to buy the downloads. Even with the extra step of going to Pottermore and setting up a new account, the whole thing took less than five minutes.
The roundabout method of purchasing the books sent ripples not just through the legions of Potterheads, but also through the publishing industry. In particular, Amazon's cooperation raised a few inky eyebrows. Here's The Huffington Post to explain:
In a break with industry practices, the books aren't locked down by encryption, which means consumers can move them between devices and read them anywhere they like.
If "Pottermore," J.K. Rowling's new Web store, proves a success, it could provide a model for other authors and publishers and undermine the clout of Amazon.com Inc., which dominates e-book sales.
"I think it's a very large crack in a dam that's going to collapse in the next nine to twelve months," says Matteo Berlucchi, the CEO of an independent British-based online bookstore, aNobii.
E-books from major publishers are sold in encrypted form today. The text of a book is scrambled so that only authorized devices and software can read it. For instance, a book bought from Amazon can be read only on the company's Kindle e-readers and on its Kindle applications for smartphones, tablets and PCs. It can't be read on Barnes & Noble's Nook e-readers.
Conversely, a book for the Nook can't be read on a Kindle. A book purchased from Apple Inc. can only be read on iPhones, iPod touches and iPads.
Publishers insist on encryption in the form of "Digital Rights Management," or DRM because they believe it stops piracy. It also helps e-book retailers like Amazon defend their business models, keeping non-Amazon books off Kindle e-readers.
But when Rowling fans buy a book from Pottermore, they can download it in a variety of formats, including one that is not protected by DRM. They can be read by a wide variety of applications and devices.