Pottermore.com Is Exclusive, Interactive Harry Potter E-Bookstore

Thirteen years after the first Harry Potter book was published, J. K. Rowling is shaking up the publishing world again: Pottermore.com, the mysterious website that hit the internet last week, will be the exclusive vendor for Harry Potter e-books, which have previously not been released in digital form. In the week leading up to the announcement, the e-bookstore was one theory that initially made the rounds on the internet (and which we floated here), but there was also a great deal of speculation that the site would be a multiplayer online game or some kind of treasure hunt. Rowling’s announcement put those theories to rest, but Pottermore will be an interactive reading site with fan participation.

In an announcement this morning, and in this video on YouTube, J. K. Rowling said, “I’m thrilled to say that I am now in a position to give you something unique: An online reading experience unlike any other. It’s called Pottermore. It’s the same story with a few crucial additions. The most important one is you…

“The digital generation will be able to enjoy a safe, unique online reading experience built around the Harry Potter books. Pottermore will be the place where fans of any age can share, participate in, and rediscover stories. It will also be the exclusive place to purchase digital audiobooks and, for the first time, e-books of the Harry Potter series. I’ll be joining in too, because I will be sharing additional information I’ve been hoarding for years about the world of Harry Potter. Pottermore is open to everyone from October, but a lucky few can enter early and help shape the experience. Simply follow the owl. Good luck.”

The site will launch fully in October, but will be open to a million early users on July 31. Fans are instructed to come back to the site that day to find out how to get the chance to enter Pottermore early. (Getting back into full speculation mode, the selection process could have something to do with the Quill Quest mentioned in yesterday’s leaked memo. Or maybe the memo, despite what PR reps said, really was just a stunt.) Though the e-books will be available only through Pottermore.com, they’ll be compatible with devices including the Kindle, The Bookseller reports. That would suggest that Rowling has made a deal with Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN), since until now it has only sold Kindle books through its own Kindle store. But if there’s any author that Amazon would let dictate the terms, it’s Rowling.

Rowling said that she didn’t want to restrict e-books to a particular device. Selling the e-books directly through Pottermore, she said, “means we can guarantee people everywhere are getting the same experience and at the same time. I am personally lucky to have the resources to do it myself and I could do it, I think, right. I could find the right people and take my time. There was no other option for the fans or for me.”

Digital distributor OverDrive is providing the e-book platform. Rowling’s UK publisher, Bloomsbury, will receive a share of the e-book revenues, The Bookseller says. Presumably Scholastic, the U.S. publisher, is also getting a cut.

More to come!