JK Rowling blows up the eBookstore business

University of Toronto professor Joshua Gans analyzes the Pottermore announcement – at Digitopoly and for Forbes. Read both to get an appreciation of the caption “… blows up the eBookstore business”. This is a very important turning point in the eBook business:

(…) First, some facts. (i) You can only purchase Harry Potter books from Pottermore. Go to Amazon — and they seem to be pleased they are available — and you are directed to the Pottermore site. You then go through a process of linking your Amazon account but then can download the book straight on to your device.

(ii) You purchase once and you can get the book on any device. And I mean any. Kindle, iPad (through iBooks), Google Play (whatever that is) and Sony who appear to have provided the technical grunt to get this working. There is no other major book that is available this way. Actually, probably no other paid book available this way.

(iii) What about DRM? That is hard to parse. Here is what I know. I downloaded the book on a Kindle. I then downloaded another copy direct to my computer (in ePub format) and it appears that with that version I can put it on as many readers as I like. The site says I am limited to 8 downloads but once I have that ePub version there does not seem to be any limits.

(…) and here’s an excerpt from Forbes on the pricing revolution:

But then there is the pricing. For the US version, the cost is $7.99 for the first three books, $9.99 for the rest and $57.54 for the lot. For the UK version, the same prices are 4.99, 6.99 and 38.64 pounds. The UK versions are more expensive. But what is more interesting is the language choice. Now you ask: what do you mean, surely you want English. Well, there are two versions of Harry Potter: the original English versions and the US English versions and they are different. In the UK, it is the Philosopher’s Stone. In the US, it is the Sorcerer’s Stone. Coming, as we do from Australia, I wanted to buy the UK version. To my delight, it listed them and, in fact, the UK version looked cheaper. But then I went to purchase and was told that that version was not available in your country.

AFAIK Rowling had kept all eBook rights to herself. So when it came time to negotiate with Amazon, Rowling then held all the high cards. Care to guess what Amazon’s referral take is? For sure it isn’t their usual 30%.