Well, at least for her. Today, JK Rowling finally joined the eBook party on her own Pottermore website. As I write about at the Parentonomics blog at Forbes.com today, the pricing and versioning issues are kind of mysterious. But here I want to concentrate on what all this means for eBook publishing.
First, some facts. (i) You can only purchase Harry Potter books from Pottermore. Go to Amazon — and they seem to be pleased they are available — and you are directed to the Pottermore site. You then go through a process of linking your Amazon account but then can download the book straight on to your device.
(ii) You purchase once and you can get the book on any device. And I mean any. Kindle, iPad (through iBooks), Google Play (whatever that is) and Sony who appear to have provided the technical grunt to get this working. There is no other major book that is available this way. Actually, probably no other paid book available this way.
(iii) What about DRM? That is hard to parse. Here is what I know. I downloaded the book on a Kindle. I then downloaded another copy direct to my computer (in ePub format) and it appears that with that version I can put it on as many readers as I like. The site says I am limited to 8 downloads but once I have that ePub version there does not seem to be any limits.
So what does this mean? The whole concern over eBooks was potential device lock-in. We are worried about being tied to Amazon or Apple or what have you forever. This same thing is preventing entry or inroads by others such as Sony. The Rowling initiative breaks through all of that. It is device independent for the first time in this industry. One can only imagine the negotiations that occurred that allowed that to be possible — particularly with Amazon. Also, I can’t imagine that Amazon or Apple are getting their 30% cuts in this deal but let’s wait and see on that.
The point is that once one author — no matter how powerful — can prove all this possible, there is the potential for floodgates to be opened. It will be interesting to see where this leads.