J.K. Rowling's decision to sell her Harry Potter e-books directly to consumers across every reading device (assuming she can conclude the necessary agreements which, given the stakes, seems inevitable) is a very big deal—in all the meanings of the term. Rowling has sold 450 million books worldwide to date in seventy languages—$7 billion in sales, according to the Wall Street Journal. This is only the beginning of what is certain to be a lasting demand for the series, as young readers reach the age when they launch into the spell that so enraptured the first generation to encounter the seven books as Rowling released them to mounting popularity and excitement.
Rowling is so formidable a force that booksellers, no matter how they react to Pottermore, can hardly risk downgrading their support for the printed series. In fact, on the day that Rowling made her announcement, Barnes & Noble linked to her video as part of its promotion of the series and highlighted, as they now do in every way, the B&N Nook. But however the Pottermore distribution model eventually turns out, it is another giant step in the transformation of the book business. The most recent major survey of adult readers, conducted by the Pew Internet Project, showed that the numbers with an e-book reader had doubled from 6 percent to 12 percent in six months from November 2010 to May 2011. As an interesting aside, the increase in tablet ownership has been significantly slower.Read More