Harry Potter and the Release of the Long-Awaited E-Books

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J.K. Rowlings’ Harry Potter books have sold around 450 million copies worldwide — all of them made out of an ancient material your parents know as “paper.” Today, the entire series is entering the digital age, selling as e-books on the Pottermore website.

The first three books will sell for $7.99 while the remaining four will sell for $9.99. Digital audiobooks are also available for $29.99 and $44.99, respectively, and are read by the very British Jim Dale.

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The biggest question I had following the announcement was “Why did it take so long?” The first book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, was published in the United States in 1998.

Part of the answer: Rowlings, who retained the digital rights to her books when originally signing her book contracts, stands to make gobs of money as most of the revenue will go directly to her instead of her publishers. Building an infrastructure that can handle that many transactions and downloads takes time.

The e-books will also be available via links to the Pottermore store in the Kindle Store and Google Play. One noticeable exception: Apple’s iBookstore. It appears Apple’s love of control and Rowlings’ desire to become even more absurdly wealthy mean that one-click shopping is not in the cards for iPad owners, although they’ll still be able to download the books other ways.

Initially, only the English version of the series will be available, with the French, German, Spanish and Italian editions “coming soon.” The books are available in EPUB format and can be saved on up to eight different devices.

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