Harry Potter series lands e-book deal
Website created for exclusive sales
LONDON — Harry Potter battled the forces of evil and now is set to conquer the Web — coming to e-books in a groundbreaking deal that has delighted fans but alarmed the book industry that helped make creator J.K. Rowling a billionaire.
Rowling announced yesterday that her seven novels about the boy wizard will be sold for the first time as e-books, beginning in October, exclusively through a new online portal to her wizarding world called Pottermore.
The deal brings longtime e-book refusnik Rowling into the digital fold, but comes as a bitter potion to established booksellers, who will be shut out of the latest chapter of a vastly profitable saga.
“You can’t hold back progress,’’ Rowling told reporters in London. “E-books are here and they are here to stay.’’
The Potter novels will be available as audio books and e-books in multiple languages, initially including English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, and Japanese. Prices have yet to be set. The Pottermore website, meanwhile, is an immersive online environment that combines elements of a role-playing game and a digital encyclopedia with social networking and an online store.
By selling directly to fans, Rowling is bypassing established online retailers like Amazon, although the creators of Pottermore say the books will be compatible with popular e-readers including Amazon’s Kindle, Sony’s Reader, and Apple’s iPad.
Tom Turcan, chief operating officer of the new venture, Pottermore Ltd., said Rowling wanted “to make the books available to everybody, not to make them available only to people who own a particular set of devices, or tethered to a particular set of platforms.’’
Phil Jones, deputy editor of The Bookseller, a London-based trade magazine, said cutting out retailers is a gamble — but if anyone can pull that off, it would be Rowling. The 45-year-old British author has retained the electronic publishing rights to her books, which have sold 450 million copies around the world in paper form.
The site goes live on July 31 — the boy wizard’s birthday.