JK Rowling’s announcement last month that she would finally be releasing digital versions of the Harry Potter novels was met with great excitement. That’s no surprise as the series is much beloved and Rowling’s announcement timed with the release of the final Harry Potter film. Fans, feeling nostalgic perhaps for the books themselves, are keen to see what happens when the magic of Harry Potter meets the magic of electronic literature.
But many industry analysts noted that Rowling’s decision to bypass the traditional publishing industry – to self-publish, if you will, her novels on a new website called Pottermore – could mark another important shift in power. No traditional publishers. No traditional booksellers. No DRM.
How Pottermore would work remained a little unclear, particularly as Rowling promised that the content would be available for all e-reader formats. But news from Google today helps answer some of these questions.
Google says that it will be providing support for Pottermore through a number of Google products and APIs. The books will be available via the open Google eBooks platform, for example, which will mean that when users purchase their digital Harry Potter novels, they can either use Google Books or move the content to another platform or device. (How this will work for Amazon Kindles still isn’t clear as these devices do not currently support ePUB or PDF files.)
Google also says that it will provide the payment platform (Google Checkout) and video broadcast platform (YouTube, obviously) for this new online Harry Potter experience.
It’s no surprise that Pottermore has turned to Google to run what is bound to be a wildly popular e-commerce site. How well this deal will help boost Google’s own e-bookstore efforts, beyond just sales of the Harry Potter titles, remains to be seen. No doubt Google hopes to be able to lure fans and book-buyers in to its e-bookstore for all their reading needs.
Pottermore is expected to open in October.