Why Pottermore Could Change Everything

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Some have discussed how Amazon has been disintermediating publishers with its various initiatives. What we witnessed today was the biggest disintermediation ever.

We are now seeing an author selling direct to readers without being locked out from the world’s major retail and reading platforms with Pottermore.

If you haven’t heard, the news is that Harry Potter books are now available as e-books for the first time. The even bigger news is that you can get them through Kindle or Nook directly from Pottermore. An author is getting the biggest booksellers to send traffic to her site so readers can purchase books directly from her.

How it works is that you go to the Nook or Kindle site and select a Harry Potter title. After selected, a pop-up appears, which reads:

You are on your way to enjoying Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Harry Potter #7) by purchasing it through the Pottermore website.

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.

Can you feel the tectonic plates shifting? We may experience the aftershocks for some time to come.

One more thing: One of the interesting angles on this is that the Potter e-books are being sold without digital rights management, except a watermark. (Watermarked books can still be tracked to an individual, if necessary, but without imposing the technical barriers of DRM.)

It may just be a matter of time before Adobe DRM declines and we see the ascendance of watermarking. We have witnessed it in the music industry. We can also see it in action in Denmark and Sweden, where even large publishers find the use of watermarking totally normal, even desirable.

Related: Should Publishers Abandon DRM? One Bookseller Thinks So

Andrew Rhomberg

About Andrew Rhomberg

Andrew is the founder of Jellybooks, a start-up focused on exploring, sampling and sharing ebooks. He previously worked at txtr (whitelabel ebook retail platform), Skype (internet telephony), Reciva (internet radio), gate5 (now Nokia Maps), and Shell (oil). He holds a science Ph.D. from MIT. Follow him on Twitter at @arhomberg.

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6 thoughts on “Why Pottermore Could Change Everything

  1. “One of the interesting angles on this is that the Potter e-books are being sold without digital rights management, except a watermark”

    That’s not completely true. Any ebook you send to one of the ebookstores will come DRM mixed in.
    http://t.co/83rU9zgw

  2. Amazing. I knew she would sell direct, but I didn’t realize she’d be able to get “them” to drive traffic to her. Wow. Business is business I guess. Thanks for pointing this out.

  3. I’m assuming Pottermore is collecting the customer data here. Will Amazon & B&N be offering something similar to other publishers – the ability to perform the transaction while taking advantage of their ebook distribution infrastructure?

  4. this is the test case trade publishers have been looking for. Pottermore CEO , Charlie Redmayne is one of the keynotes at LBF Digital Minds Conference. He will be very interesting on this first for an author selling direct to fan, and I’m sure DRM will crop up somewhere!

  5. So…what are Amazon and B&N getting out of this deal, I wonder? I’m imagining the conversation between the companies. What point or offer did Pottermore’s captains make to Amazon and B&N that led to them agreeing to forward customers to the Pottermore site for direct purchase? A cut? Customer goodwill? The threat of pulling all the HP print titles?

  6. The beautiful thing is, JK Rowling has that kind of bargaining power. I’m sure the only thing she had to say was \You either link to pottermore, or be the only store that doesn’t offer Harry Potter books.\ The potential loss of future customers alone would be enough to make even the biggest companies (except Apple of course) cave.

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