This morning Google made an announcement of magical significance: the Harry Potter eBooks, which are being released for the first time this October, will be available via its Google Books platform. That sounds like it should be a given, but in the case of Potter it isn’t — author J.K. Rowling is selling the books exclusively through Pottermore, a site that she launched with much fanfare last month.
Some reports took this to mean that Potter wouldn’t be making his way to the Kindle (or that end-users would have to deal with clunky workarounds to get the book off of Google Books and onto Amazon’s popular device). Fortunately, that isn’t the case: we’ve received word from an Amazon spokesperson that the company is “working closely with Pottermore to make sure Kindle customers will be able to buy and read J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books.”
That’s important, because even before today’s Google announcement people have questioned if Potter would come to the Kindle. Pottermore is reportedly distributing the books in a DRM-free format, and
historically Amazon has only sold its books with DRM. Update: Amazon says that they actually sell lots of Kindle books without DRM, and that the decision is up to the publisher. It’s unclear exactly what Amazon is going to do here, but obviously they’re working something out (and they have a strong incentive to, given that the series has sold 450 million copies in print). One thing to note: Amazon’s statement makes it clear that Potter is coming to the Kindle, but it’s still feasible that there could be different release windows in play.
As for the purchase process itself, it sounds like users will buy the books from Pottermore, then choose which eBook platform they’d like them delivered to.
And while it doesn’t have exclusive rights to the books, Google does have a leg up on Amazon in at least one respect: they’ve been chosen as “the preferred third party payment platform for all purchases made on Pottermore.com” — you’ll be able to pay with either Google Checkout, or your credit card. Given how many people will flock to the site, this could well introduce Google Checkout to a lot of people for the first time.
Finally, Google hints that there will be more coming from its partnership: “Stay tuned for more Pottermore and Google wizardry on the web this summer, leading up to when Pottermore opens.”