Saturday, 24 December 2011

JKR's Pottermore & Sony Reader - what is going on?

JK Rowling's Pottermore was scheduled for launch last October, with the long awaited ebooks available to meet the Christmas market. Hundreds of thousands of children would find a Sony Reader pre-loaded with Harry Potter plus extra bits in their Christmas stockings. The launch was postponed. Since then, a strange silence has settled over the whole topic. Google Pottermore, and all the entries date from June 2011. Has someone cast a Disillusionment charm, an Impediment Jinx or pronounced Colloportus?

On behalf of my blog readers, I decided to investigate. First stop was the Pottermore website, still in beta. Not much to see for non-members, but if you go here it's clear just how many people are involved in the enterprise. Next stop Pottermore Insider, the site blog. Oddly, none of the posts have dates, only times, though you can tell from the sidebar the last four posts are December's. I liked the posts about designing the House Crests. No information about when the site will exit beta and the ebooks become available. No updates or press releases.

What has this hiatus meant? First, it's enabled Amazon to consolidate Kindle's lead position among ereaders; they've brought out the affordable Kindle 4, the Kindle Touch and the Kindle Fire, and have been selling a million a week this month. Amazon's clever online store and wireless delivery are a hard act to beat. Sony's Reader (which must have been counting on the USP of offering access to the world's best-selling series of books) has lost ground it will never recover.

Second, a canny operator like JKR has made the classic mistake of creating a demand and failing to meet it. The black market has stepped in. For those who don't care about copyright, the ebooks of Harry Potter are out there, readily available and free, in the format of your choice.

and thanks to all my readers


  1. Really interesting post Lexi. For such a worldwide name and a company whose whole success is based on leaps in technology Sony has been hopeless at electronic retailing. I bought a music player from them a few years ago because it looked much more stylish than the then i-Pod, but their Connect download service was so rubbish I hardly never used it. They pulled the plug on Connect about a year later. I wonder if JK has hitched her thoroughbred to the wrong wagon this time?

  2. Doug, I think perhaps JKR prefers print books, and has little knowledge of or interest in ebooks.

    If I were her, I'd have gone with the obvious choice, the Kindle. Amazon would have pulled out all the stops to make the ebooks a huge success, and they'd have done it before Christmas 2011, which looks to be another watershed in the unstoppable march of the ebook.

    I remember my mother buying a Betamax VCR long, long ago...

  3. Happy Christmas Lexi!!!

    E-things bad, print good. Ahem!

    LOL! Yes, I have started on ze mulled wine...!

    Take care

  4. Cheers, Kitty, and Happy Christmas!

    You might get a Kindle in your stocking tomorrow and learn to love it :o)