No ‘Potter,’ No Problem for E-books
E-books could very well be the way of the future for book publishers, but for the author of the expected biggest release of the year, readers are going to have to finish out J.K. Rowling’s series the old fashioned way.
Along with releasing the July 21 street date for “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” representatives of the author said the book, like the six previous editions in the series, would not be made available to readers as an e-book. Neil Blair, a lawyer with Rowling’s literary firm Christopher Little Literary Agency, told the Associated Press that the author has no intentions of making the book available in any digital format. Several factors, including ongoing fears of digital piracy, were mentioned as reasons for her decision.
Not exactly an endorsement of the medium that has been building momentum in the past year. But insiders of the digital book world are not fearful this isolated event will harm the growth of the digital segment.
According to the Association of American Publishers (AAP), e-book sales neared $25 million last year. Although the figure is a fraction of the overall industry sales of more than $10 billion, e-book sales growth is considerably larger than print’s during the past year.
Nick Bogaty, the executive director of the International Digital Publishing Forum, an organization working to help standardize digital publishing throughout the book industry, said Rowling’s decision was expected after the author refused to release the last six installments of the series in a digital format. The “Potter” novels have sold 325 million print copies since the first book in the series was released in 1997. Illegal digital editions of the “Potter” series have become rampant with each new release, appearing online for download.
“It’s nothing new,” Bogaty says of the recent “Potter” news. “[Rowling] hasn’t done it in the past. If she did [release an e-book version], it certainly would not hurt. [Not releasing an e-book] doesn’t help, but I don’t honestly think that one book can make it or not make [it]. Is one book strong enough to make [the e-book] industry strong enough to make it mainstream? The answer is no. The Beatles do not release their music on iTunes. Does that prevent the distribution of digital music? No.”
Bogaty says the catalyst for acceptance of the medium will not be a major best-selling release, such as the latest “Potter” book, but rather several different factors that will lead to the ultimate success of e-books.
“I think things like a broad selection of books that consumers can use,” Bogaty says. “Price point is obviously a good thing. Good e-book reading software and devices is a good thing. A standard file format is a good thing. Fair DRM (digital rights management) is a good thing. I think all of those things are the real industry factors.”