July 11, 2011
With the launch of her Pottermore website, has JK Rowling turned her back on the institutions that have been so supportive of her over the last few years, namely bookshops?
Rowling has stated that her Pottermore project will be an interactive website where fans can “share, participate, and rediscover” the adventures of Harry and his friends, in what she describes as “an online reading experience unlike any other.” But where does that online reading experience leave the thousands of booksellers up and down the country who helped turn the Potter series into a publishing phenomenon? These are the booksellers who opened at midnight, dressed up as witches and wizards, and sold barrow-loads of books, swelling the coffers of Rowling and her publisher, Bloomsbury.
Since the launch of the Kindle and other ereaders, I’ve often thought that it would take a big publishing event to push these devices further into the mainstream. Just as the Coronation in 1953 helped to boost sales of televisions in the UK, will the clamour for digital-only Potter-product push the sales of ereaders up to the next level?
Perhaps I’m thinking too much like a 40-year-old about all of this, when I should be thinking like someone half my age. If the average Harry Potter reader was eight when the first book in the series was published in 1997, that same reader would be 22 by now. They would have grown up with the internet, be used to smartphones, and would most likely expect a sizable degree of interactivity in their leisure activities. Many of them will have younger siblings, who will have had the printed books passed down to them, and now they’ll be ready for new story-lines, new features and new ways to consume them. Will they kick books to the curb and demand interactivity in everything they read? I guess we’ll find out in October.
The bigger picture here is that without an easy, cost-effective way to offer digital Potter-product, high-street bookshops will, for the first time, be left out of the rush. There’ll be no dressing as wizards to promote this slice of Potter, and no queue down the high-street to buy it.
June 23, 2011
I’ve just received a newsflash from The Bookseller that J K Rowling is to sell Harry Potter e-books exclusively from the Pottermore website. This seems to be what was suspected back in May – check out my post referencing an article in the Scotsman newspaper. There’s also been some talk about this on The Bookseller news pages. Interesting…
April 5, 2011
So it looks as if Potter is coming to the Kindle and the iPad, and JK is about to get another shed-load of cash. £100 million in fact. Reports in The Scotsman newspaper say that this could “revolutionise the world of electronic publishing, triggering rocket sales of e-book readers such as Kindle and the iPad.”
But hang on, hasn’t everyone who wants to read the Potter books already read them? There must be tons of Potters in circulation, that get passed down to the younger siblings of the original readers. I’m not sure a Kindle version would be a big enough selling point to get people buying the £111 gadget. An all singing all dancing iPad version could be fun, but would it sell in huge quantities?
I reckon the tipping point for rocketing sales of e-books will come when Rowling publishes her next creation, perhaps only available on the Kindle for a limited period. I think it’ll take an event like that to really change the market. But who knows? As someone once said, “In publishing, no-one knows anything”.
February 27, 2011
I’ve never been a fan of Dan Brown, and The Da Vinci Code doesn’t appeal to me. But someone out there sure as hell likes it. According to Wikipedia, The Da Vinci Code has sold 80 million copies and is the best selling English language novel of the 21st century. I know, I should never quote Wikipedia. These facts could be fiction. But without a doubt Dan Brown’s book has shifted quite a few units since it first appeared in 2003.
As such, I thought it would be a good book to use in an experiment, that is, how much does a Kindle version of this popular backlist title cost, compared to a printed version?
To follow is a quick list of how much I could spend on a copy, as of yesterday:
- Library – free
- Used on Amazon (inc postage) – £1.35
- Used from Cancer Research Shop - £1.50
- Kindle Edition – £4.74
- New from Amazon (inc postage) – £4.74
- New from Play.com – £4.99
- Sainsbury’s – £4.99
- W H Smith – £5.59
- Waterstones – £6.39
- Tesco – £6.39
- Blackwell’s – £7.99
- Apple iBook Store – £8.95
So, the Kindle version is as cheap as the printed version from Amazon, which I was a bit surprised about. But the thing is, I haven’t got a Kindle. I’d like one, I’m all for it, but how many ebooks would I have to buy to make it cost effective? If I bought the 3G version tomorrow, plus a copy of Dan Brown’s bestseller, it would cost me £156. Which is a bit steep.
And don’t get me started on the un-availability of chronological back-list fiction titles on the Kindle – that’s a whole other post…
February 24, 2011
Tesco have started selling Kindles, and they seem to be selling quite well, as the dump-bin they have in store is often empty. I wonder what sort of deal they have with Amazon – I haven’t seen then in any other supermarket. Does this mean that Amazon are now a hardware manufacturer?