Yesterday I saw a report that J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books will be available for sale as ebooks through the new Pottermore website, which is scheduled to launch on July 31, 2011.
That’s news, because Rowling never sold the ebook rights to her books, and they’ve never been officially available as ebooks (though there were some illegal copies floating around, I’m sure).
What’s the big deal? Well, on its face, it appears that one of the biggest selling authors, well, ever, has decided to self electronically publish (epub as some call it in shorthand) her books.
Booksellers don’t seem too happy about the development. They were, after all, the ones who sold millions of copies of the print versions of the book. This means that they won’t get any of the profits in selling the ebooks, right or wrong.
It occurred to me, however, that books like the Harry Potter series could encourage more sales of ereader platforms, such as Kindle, Nook, iPad, or Sony Reader. After all, the sales of the Harry Potter books brought more people into bookstores and interested more new readers than many other books over the last decades. It stands to reason that their sudden availability could finally topple those sitting on the fence of whether or not to buy an ereader device squarely into the buying category. Booksellers like Amazon or Barnes and Noble, might actually make out okay; booksellers without their own device might not, because of the lost profits with regard to what they might have made online with traditionally published ebooks. That’s not an argument for a million and one new and different ereader devices to come out, by the way. It’s just something that I had thought of when I read the article I linked to above.
On the other hand, I’m intrigued. There’s been a lot out there about epub. I’ve been watching it all very closely, and I have friends, both published and not, also watching it closely.
Between the recent moves of Barry Eisler and J.A. Konrath into self epub, as well as the moves of Amanda Hocking moving from self epub into traditional publishing, the future of the industry is definitely changing.
I’m definitely watching, although I’ve made no decisions and no permanent choices with regard to when, if, or what, I might consider following down this rabbit hole. And if I did follow it…is it a wise choice to make, a major gamble, or is it blind trust…like Alice and the Drink Me bottle as she went to Wonderland? I don’t know. I’m pretty cautious by nature. I’m watching and waiting to see how some of this shakes out.