Pottermore Reveals the Future of the Publishing Industry

June 27, 2011 at 7:00 am | Posted in Books, eBooks | 1 Comment
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Some interesting publishing news has come out recently, and one of the big headlines in the last week is Pottermore. J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, has recently opened up a site called Pottermore. Although the site kicked off with a circulation of rumors, it was soon revealed that the intention for Pottermore is that of an online store. On the surface that doesn’t sound all that interesting but one of the unique things about this store is that it will be the only place to buy Harry Potter eBooks. Up until now the Harry Potter books have been available only in print. The first up for release is Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (UK) aka Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (US) which will go on sale in October in both digital audio format and eBook format. Unfortunately fans will have to wait awhile before Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets goes on sale as that won’t happen until early 2012. This also seems to indicate that it may take over a year for the whole series to be released in digital format.

Regardless there’s been an interesting outpour of feedback on the whole affair. On one side the media has proclaimed Rowling an innovative entrepreneur for taking on the task of selling the digital books herself and cutting out the middle man: the publishers. Keep in mind that Rowling, with the help of Sony, built the site and all sales will be direct to the buyers. Her UK publisher Bloobsbury and US publisher Scholoastic will both receive an undisclosed royalty on the sales, but it goes without saying that the bulk of the profits will be going to Rowling. Yet the publishing industry is not convinced that this move on Rowling’s part is all that big of a deal. According to an article in Publishers Weekly:

…the endeavor says less about the future of book publishing than about the singular status of a very wealthy author who has the inclination and means to build her own brand…most authors, publishing sources noted, do not have the following or the wherewithal to launch their own online storefront…retailing, even when the process does not involve physical product, is complicated.

These comments are worth noting because they lack depth and knowledge, and have the feel of defensive responses. First off the article implies that the future of publishing is certainly not the direct sale of books from authors to readers. Secondly they imply that having your own online store is an extremely difficult task, and lastly that managing your own sales is very complex. Yet reality seems to disagree.

Creating an online store, managing your own sales, and taking on the job of being your own publisher will most certainly involve work, but it is not an insurmountable task. For instance look at author Michael A. Stackpole’s site Stormwolf.com. Michael Stackpole is a renowned author, however, you have admit his success is out shadowed by the phenomenon that is Harry Potter. As of 2004 J.K. Rowling was the first and only billionaire author and as recent as 2010, she was the richest author in the world. That statement alone clarifies the degree of success she has had with Harry Potter. Yet Michael A. Stackpole has his own site, his own online store, and has been selling his eBooks directly to customers for some time now. This would indicate that J.K. Rowling is not the only author with the “singular status” and wealth to do something like Pottermore. In fact a few weeks ago author Kristine Kathryn Rusch actually wrote an article detailing how writers can be their own publishers, not only listing the work and steps involved, but instances where you might want to still approach a publisher for a book or two.

When it comes down to it, writers selling their own books is a common sense approach to business. In any business, the more work you do yourself, the more money you get to keep. The digital age we live in is ripe for self-promotion. It offers an endless avenue of online outlets to customers around the world. Pottermore is not the first attempt at an author selling their own books, and it certainly won’t be the last. Authors are waking up, and although publishers and agents are resisting the writing on the wall, the future is clear: more and more authors will be selling their own digital books.

Written By: Skuldren

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