On Tuesday, we were greeted with the news that the Harry Potter eBooks are finally available for purchase on Pottermore.com exclusively. Soon after I digested that news, I received an email from Barnes & Noble announcing that they too had the Harry Potter eBooks for sale for their Nook platform. I was preoccupied with other duties yesterday and wasn’t able to chase all this down in too much detail.
Today’s news greeted me with the fact Amazon.com was now also selling the eBook versions of the Harry Potter books – with a twist. They explicitly tell you that you will be purchasing the eBook at the Pottermore website. Barnes & Noble does not tell you that straight away.
At Barnes & Noble, you only get that information after you click the “Buy Now” button:
It seems J. K. Rowling means business.
This is a landmark move for the eBook industry. This effectively removes control of the sale of the entire Harry Potter eBook collection from the hands of the distributors and publishers and puts it in the hands of the author and her team. It is a move that I am sure all authors would love to see happen more often.
After only just this past week discussing the differences between paperback pricing and eBook pricing on this blog, this is a welcome bit of news. The price difference is still not wide enough to completely represent the difference in distribution logistics in my mind, but then again I am neither an author or a publisher so my view of the processes is most likely meagre.
Paperback distribution involves steps that are easily imaginable: printing, packaging, storing, shipping, shelving, etc. The process for distributing eBooks is slightly less transparent and the overhead costs of setting up and maintaining a distribution system such as the one at Pottermore.com is possibly only small part of the process.
Regardless, it will be interesting to see what happens with the eBook industry after this.