Pottermore + Google = eBooks for Everyone


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When J.K. Rowling announced Pottermore, the interactive Harry Potter website set to launch in full this October, the biggest part of the announcement (aside from OMG HARRY POTTER) was that the author would be releasing all of the series’ titles on ebooks “available for every ereader”. But until this week, no one knew how that little plan was going to work out–Rowling refused to sign with Amazon or Barnes & Noble to offer exclusive Kindle or Nook titles.

In effect, Rowling will be self-publishing the digital copies of Harry Potter on Pottermore, a move that could leave proprietary readers reeling from the loss of potential earnings.It seems Rowling will be taking Potter to Google, and publishing all of the books through open-source Google eBooks (purchasable through Google Checkout) in DRM-free ePub and PDF formats.

There’s a bit of misinformation about the accessibility of these formats on Kindle floating around on the web–some are saying that this locks out Kindle-owners because ePub and ODF aren’t supported by the device, which is untrue. PDF support for Kindle was integrated in a software update over a year ago; if you prefer your files in a standard Kindle format, there’s this:

Option to Convert PDF Files to Kindle Format
If you prefer to have your personal PDF documents converted to the Kindle format so you can take advantage of Kindle functionality such as variable font size, annotation, Text-to-Speech, etc., type “Convert” in the subject of the e-mail when you submit your personal document to your “name”@free.kindle.com address.
Image-heavy PDF files are presented in landscape orientation and don’t work with devices that have auto-rotation, so those will be delivered in the Kindle format.

So what we have here, essentially, is one of the most popular living authors taking into her own hands the sale and distribution of her content–making it available to all of her fans without encouraging the bidding war between proprietary ereaders, catering to the majority or offering a business boon to the second and third largest ereader retailers. Rowling has set herself apart while simultaneously offering equal availability to readers. That, geeks, is what you call a win.

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7 Responses to Pottermore + Google = eBooks for Everyone

  1. Omgosh, there's a very big chance I'm buying the books all over again! DRM FREE? SHE IS WONDERFUL! I will buy them again just to support her "risky" choice! (Though, lets be fair, it's not like she hasn't already earned more than enough movie off her books and movies.)

    Also, you can just use Calibre to convert an open-DRM free format to another that works on Kindle. No reason to go through the hassle of using Amazon's service. o_0

  2. “[A]ll of her fans”… as long as they live in the U.S. Just this week I was trying to look up some book, the author’s site directed me to Google… oops, only available in America right now.

    • Well, I'd be very surprised if she limits the release to the US only. Considering she's a citizen of the UK, and the UK is her original fan-base… well…. that'd be a very strange and insulting move on her part. With it being DRM free, it'd be much more sensible to release it world-wide on the same day to reduce unnecessary pirating.

      • Unfortunately if what Biri is saying is right then it won't be her choice, the problem is the Google eBooks platform which she is releasing on is only available in the US. However looking at the site myself it seems like books are available on a publisher by publisher basis – which in this case I assume means they can only distribute it in other countries if approved to do so by J.K. herself. Not a problem then :)

  3. Google eBooks is only available in the US for now. It will eventually roll out everywhere. Like all Google services do.

  4. It depends on the PDF file. If the Harry Potter PDF versions are image only, then the conversion won't work. Even if it's done as a text file, the translation from PDF to MOBI (Kindle), will not necessarily format the files correctly and Kindle owners may be stuck with a poorly formatted version.

    Ben