June 25, 2011

Harry Potter E-Books Coming To A Computer Near You

JK Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books, announced that after years of restricting the phenomenally successful series to print-only form, she will now be selling the series as e-books through a website that contains new material.

The new interactive website will be the exclusive seller of the e-book editions of Harry Potter, to the dismay of Amazon and Apple.

Fans will have access to the world of Potter and his friends through graphics and video that immerses them into an "online reading experience."

"It's a wonderful way to introduce the digital generation to books," Rowling said at a press conference in London's Victoria and Albert Museum.

"Personally I love printed paper books, but e-books are miraculous, you have several hundred books available at a time."

Rowling's e-book venture partners her with Sony, but she retains the digital publication rights, reports AFP.

Howard Stringer of Sony released a statement saying that it was a "pioneering partnership" that would "help shape the future of story-telling."

The Harry Potter author says that she has a special bond with fans online and that she was "phenomenally lucky in that I have the resources to do it myself and therefore I got to do it, I think, right."

She says, "I think this is a fantastic and unique experience that I can afford in every sense."

More than a retail outlet, Pottermore leads fans into Harry Potter's Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where they are able to shop for wands in Diagon Alley, travel to Hogwarts from the imaginary platform at London's King's Cross train station, and be sorted into Hogwarts school houses by the Sorting Hat.

The adventures take them on wand fights, games and new information about beloved characters, including the Dursleys, Harry's mudblood relatives.

In addition, the Associated Press (AP) reports that the site will feature 18,000 words of new Potter material from the author herself, which includes what Rowlings has been "hoarding for years" about the characters and settings in the books, giving fans new reasons to obsess over Harry and his friends.

For example, Rowlings says, "I go into ridiculous detail about wand woods."

E-book popularity has exploded and has jumped from less than 1 percent of total sales four years ago to more than 20 percent, reports the AP. As Kindle, Nook and other devices become cheaper and touchscreen devices have been introduced that allows illustrated stories to become digitally available, children's books are advancing.

Even as the Harry Potter series ended four years ago, the books remain a constant seller, especially as the final movie approaches. Publishers believe that the e-books will bring in a new revolution to the stories, just as the paper books have been for the traditional market.

July 31, Harry Potter's birthday, marks the launch of the beta version of the website, with the e-books available in October. Pottermore, along with Rowlings longtime publishers, Bloomsbury Publishing in the UK and Scholastic Inc. in the US, will be sharing in the revenues, reports AFP.