Why the Harry Potter E-books Are and Aren't a Really Big Deal

This post, by Nathan Bransford, originally appeared on his site on 3/29/12.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is the last tome of a hardcover that I lugged around on vacation. It took up seemingly half my suitcase and weighed a ton, but because it wasn’t available in e-book form and because I don’t believe in piracy, I carried that thing across the country.

Now I’m thrilled to have the entire Harry Potter series resting weightlessly within my iPad.

As you have likely heard, Harry Potter is available in e-book form. And not just in e-book form, but available only through Pottermore, the digital extension of the Harry Potter brand. No other e-book vendor has it for sale, including the e-book behemoths like Amazon, B&N and iBooks. And the e-books are published by Rowling herself.

Yeah, wow.

Why This is a Big Deal

J.K. Rowling just did an entire end-around on the entire publishing world in many, many ways.

Most of the focus has been on how these are for sale only from the author, and rightly so. Even Amazon is playing ball, listing the books for sale but referring people to Pottermore to make the purchase.

And the manner in which these e-books are being distributed is revolutionary.  They’re being sold without DRM but with digital watermarks to guard against piracy. Each purchaser has 8 digital copies they can download in various formats, and it’s very easy to convert to the most popular devices. I had the e-books on my iPad within minutes.

The approach to DRM is, ironically enough, extremely similar to my earlier post on what good a good approach to DRM would look like – you can convert the files to any device and you have a sufficient number of copies for yourself and others… Only there’s no DRM. Ha! 10 points for Gryffindor.

So let’s talk about this. No publisher. The author as e-distributor. No DRM.


Read the rest of the post on Nathan Bransford‘s site.