The Pottermore e-bookstore is open earlier than expected, with all the Harry Potter e-books and digital audiobooks available (DRM-free) for sale for the first time today. Wait until you see what they worked out with Amazon’s Kindle.
Pottermore, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter community site and the exclusive source for the Harry Potter digital audiobooks and e-books, was announced last year. While the interactive community portion of the site is still in beta and set to open to a general audience in April, the bookstore is open now. (It was originally supposed to open in October 2011.)
What do the books cost? The first three books in the Harry Potter series are $7.99 (£4.99) as e-books and $29.99 (£17.99) as digital audiobooks. The final four books in the series are $9.99 (£6.99) as e-books and $44.99 (£32.99) as digital audiobooks. Readers can also buy a complete e-book bundle for $57.54 or a complete digital audiobook bundle for $242.94
Which e-readers are compatible with the e-books? It looks as though Pottermore has done a great job making the e-books available across every possible device. And the site has worked out an unusual arrangement with major e-bookstores:
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 (NYSE: SNE) Reader online account (US and Canadian based customers only) [Sony is at the top because Sony is a Pottermore partner]
Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) Kindle (available in most countries)
Barnes & Noble (NYSE: BKS) NOOK (US and Canadian based customers only)
Google (NSDQ: GOOG) Play (This service is currently available in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States)
The accounts are linked during the download process. In order to set up a linked account, please go to ‘My books’, select one of your Harry Potter eBooks to download and choose your reading service. You can view these linked accounts by going to ‘My shop account’ then ‘Linked accounts’. Please note you can link to one account per reading service.
Check out the Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone entry on Amazon this morning and you’ll see this (click to enlarge):
What, you haven’t seen Amazon do that before? No, you sure haven’t.
Amazon also has an FAQ for how to get the Harry Potter e-books onto your Kindle.
Is the process too complicated, with several clicks before you actually have the book on your e-reader? Maybe. We’ll surely see more reactions to it this morning as people start buying the e-books. Note Pottermore is directing users to the individual retailers’ customer support so it may be Amazon (and Barnes & Noble and so on) flooded with customer service requests rather than Pottermore.
UK book trade publication The Bookseller confirms that e-book retailers will eventually receive affiliate fees. Pottermore CEO Charlie Redmayne said “clearly [retailers] should earn out of it in the same way we should.”
What about Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) and iOS? Directions on how to load the book onto iPhones and iPads are here. But The Bookseller reports that Pottermore wasn’t able to come to an iBookstore agreement with Apple by the time the Pottermore shop launched.
Is there DRM? No, the e-books do not have DRM. Instead, they’re watermarked (or, as Pottermore kindly describes it, “personalized”): “The Pottermore Shop personalises eBooks with a combination of watermarking techniques that relate to the book, to the purchaser and the purchase time. This allows us to track and respond to possible copyright misuse.” Go, Pottermore. Watermarking is often floated as a good possible alternative to DRM — one that allows users easy access to the books they bought without wanting to share them — but it hasn’t been used much in trade books before now.
The site notes users can download the e-books they buy for personal use up to eight times:
eBooks purchased from the Pottermore Shop can be downloaded for your personal use up to eight times, at no additional cost. If you want to share your Harry Potter eBook with your own children, that’s absolutely fine with us too, so long as they are under 18. Actually, we’d encourage it! However, once they are over 18, they will need to buy their own copy.
You might want to download a copy to your laptop, your tablet, and your child’s eReader – whatever the combination – you have eight available downloads per book. There’s no time limit to use up your downloads, so if you lose your device or close an account with one of our partners, come back at any time to take another copy.
Eight downloads will normally be plenty, so you won’t need to buy again. However, if you do download a book more than eight times, or want to buy it as a gift, you will need to purchase it again. For more details on downloads and how they can be used, please see our Terms & Conditions.
Are the e-books available internationally? Which languages are available? The e-books and digital audiobooks are only available in U.S. and UK English for now, but “French, German, Spanish and Italian language eBooks will be available soon, and many further languages will follow. Digital audio books in German and Italian will also be available shortly.” The e-books and digital audiobooks are available for sale internationally.
Are the e-books available in libraries now? The e-books and digital audiobooks will be available to libraries through OverDrive, but this morning I’m not seeing them available in the NYPL yet. The Bookseller reports, “Libraries will be able to loan each e-book edition as many times as there is demand, but the license will only last for five years, after which libraries will need to purchase a new edition.”