Readersforum's Blog

March 29, 2012

How Pottermore cast an ebook spell over Amazon

Digital magic ... JK Rowling at the launch of Pottermore, the website created to sell ebook versions of her Harry Potter books. Photograph: Carl Court/AFP/Getty Images

…And why Harry Potter’s move into epublishing is digital magic

By Philip Jones

Take a look at Amazon’s ebook site and do a search for Harry Potter books and you will see something genuinely marvellous. Something that will warm the cockles of every publisher in the land, and perhaps even a few booksellers too.

Well, for a start, you will see that for the first time since the series began in 1997, official ebook versions of all seven titles in the Potter series are being sold.

But something even more remarkable has happened. In bringing these books to the digital marketplace, Pottermore, the business created to sell the ebooks, has forced Amazon into perhaps the biggest climbdown in its corporate history.

Instead of buying the ebooks through the Amazon e-commerce system, the buy link takes the customer off to Pottermore to complete the purchase, with the content seamlessly delivered to their Kindle device. It is the first time I’ve known Amazon to allow a third party to “own” that customer relationship, while also allowing that content to be delivered to its device. Amazon gets something like an affiliates’ fee from this transaction, much less than it would expect to receive selling an ebook through normal conditions. Schadenfreude doesn’t even come close.

 

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