Pottermore Power

JK Rowling just ripped digital book services a new one, selling her Harry Potter books directly from her website.

The books appear on Amazon and Barnes and Noble but literally only for display and convenience to the customer. The book can only be purchased at the Pottermore store and made compatible for all eReading devices.

This deal would never happen in brick and mortar stores, simply because physical book space is a store’s treasure, accounting for 80% of the revenue (my guess). Even more, the deal symbolizes what’s wrong about the digital book format. There is none!

Just take at look at ALL the book format options on Pottermore. The one I don’t see and that is comparable to the music industry’s MP3 is the PDF. Seth Godin releases his books in PDFs which allows interoperability on any device including my hand. I like to print out PDFs and write notes on them.

We’ve seen direct to fan emerge the last few years starting with musicians. At Topspin, we white labelled our widgets so major artists like Lady Gaga could sell music, merchandise, and experiences directly to fans. Just last year, Louis CK made more money by selling his $5 video (again in any format) directly to his fans. Rowling is taking her brand to a whole new level, basically using digital retailers as props. Sure, Amazon and Barnes and Noble would love to take the traffic!

I can’t wait to see the sales results from the Potter effort. I didn’t even mention the audio versions of the books that are also sold on Pottermore. You get where I’m headed, this is an absolute power play move that puts control in the artists hands and the retailers as side posts.

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By Wells Baum

Wells Baum is a daily blogger who writes about Life & Arts. He's also the author of and four books.