J.K. Rowling’s announcement this week that e-book versions of the Harry Potter series will be available exclusively through Pottermore, a new website, which is devoted to the world of Harry Potter, represents a huge milepost for e-books and a signal to authors that one can and should have control over the digital rights of one’s writings.
Rowling wisely retained the digital rights to her books and until now only allowed them to be available in print. Starting in October fans will be able to obtain copies in e-book formats from the Pottermore website.
Interestingly, bookstore chains are not on the same page in reacting to Rowling’s news. While Waterstone’s the large U.K. bookseller is not happy, Barnes & Noble announced they will join Rowling rather than fight her.
Rowling also made an important and magnanimous concession to her publishers offering them a cut of e-book sales, something she didn’t have to do.
Rowling’s announcement should strengthen the hand of authors who are working with traditional publishers, some of whom have not been magnanimous in the past concerning digital rights.