Category Archives: pottermore

Harry Potter and The DRM Dragon

I honestly haven’t had much of a chance to think about Pottermore since the announcement, but once I learned the Harry Potter ebooks would be DRM-free, I was subsequently intrigued, but even more perplexed.

As a reader, I’m perfectly happy sans DRM, of course – but I wonder what Bloomsbury is thinking when it comes to piracy. There are a number of avenues for individuals to download books illegally (which I will not list here!), so it will be a lot easier for users to share the digital versions of the HP installments without DRM within the files. I’m sure the publishers/appropriate parties can estimate how much they can expect to lose in illegal downloads.

After some quick Google-fu, I’ve just learned about digital watermarking. Very interesting… a lot more flexibility, and – gasp! – trust?

Why do we still have DRM again?

Regardless, I’m sure the “true fans” will legitimately purchase the books via Pottermore for their devices, and – this is an assumption – I bet the majority of folks with e-readers do not pirate materials. Money will come in, and as long as the content is not locked to a specific device, Rowling, Bloomsbury and Co. will have a fantastic opportunity to reach the largest audience possible.

Cha-ching.

PS: What the heck. Female 30-somethings pirate ebooks? (Courtesy of RWW.)

On Pottermore, Or: I should have expected that

As a fan of the Harry Potter series, when I first heard of the Pottermore website, my immediate thought was: “Hm. She’s doing more Potter stuff? Why? She doesn’t need the cash…” I was skeptical of the site, but I had no idea as to what it could possibly entail. I had caught a leak about Pottermore being some kind of MMO, which kinda-sorta piqued my interest, but nothing worth getting excited over.

Then, it happened:

NY Times – ‘Harry Potter’ Series to Be Sold as E-Books
Publisher’s Weekly – Pottermore Web Site to Sell E-Books in October
The Bookseller –  Confirmed: J K Rowling to sell Harry Potter e-books exclusively from Pottermore website

Of course. Of courseHarry Potter e-books. The thought of that is absolutely, positively, fantastically magical to me.

While some likely fictional people are unimpressed with the overall idea – this online network/community of new content for readers – the bigger, more important facet of this announcement warrants a lot of attention. E-books, guys! Harry Potter is coming to your Kindle, Nook, Kobo, and – dare I say it – iPad! It’s a landmark that’s long overdue. Whether J.K. Rowling or her publisher is to blame, I don’t know. Nor do I care. But I know several thousand (at the very least) did.

What does this mean to publishers? What does this mean to readers?

I think this serves as a signal. With a series as popular and as permanent as Harry Potter turning to digital means in such a profound and personal way, publishers need to re-evaluate what that digital experience means to them in regard to their readers (and e-readers).

This could be the PR magic working on me, but I don’t think the digital medium, whether it be the web or the e-reader, can solely be a medium. It needs to present something else, something that goes beyond print – not just in form, but in content. We get that with many of our books, and I think even children’s books capture it best: an isolated space where content lives and thrives because of the interactivity it offers to young readers.

Yet I look at the stuff on my Nook and merely think “text on screen.” It’s my book, but it’s digital. It’s only another way of presenting the information I want to read. And I know a big part of it has to do with what the material is – obviously a personal reading experience lends itself more to an adventure series than a medical textbook – but are publishers doing what they can to go beyond bringing titles to a screen than just for convenience’ sake, or the chance to go “look at us, we’re digital now”?

That’s why e-readers (both the devices and the human counterpart, like myself) receive so much flack from those traditional foils: “I could never leave my [printed] book. I keep books for the experience of reading.” We haven’t figured out how to genuinely tap into and capture that experience within our devices.

Maybe Harry can help.