Harry Potter E-Books Will Be In Libraries

J. K. Rowling’s Pottermore still has not officially launched, but the Harry Potter e-books and digital audiobooks sold exclusively through the site will also be available in public and school libraries, in a distribution agreement with OverDrive announced today.

OverDrive, the largest distributor of digital materials to libraries, is also providing the sales platform for paid e-book sales on Pottermore.com.

The news comes at a time when most big publishers have restricted library access to their e-books. “We are keen to support public and school libraries, and OverDrive, as one of the leading suppliers in this market, provides us with a global network that helps us achieve this, as well as encouraging the discovery of these amazing books across the world,” said Pottermore CEO Charlie Redmayne in a statement.

Penguin recently ended its relationship with the company and will no longer distribute e-books and digital audiobooks to libraries — at least until it finds a new partner. Three “big-six” publishers — Macmillan, Simon & Schuster (NYSE: CBS) and Hachette — do not make e-books available to libraries. HarperCollins allows e-books to be checked out 26 times before the library has to buy a new copy, and Random House continues to offer unrestricted access to its e-books through libraries, though it will raise its prices starting March 1. (For a handy list of how a variety of publishers, large and small, handle e-books in libraries, see this Digital Shift post.)

Publishers who do not participate in e-book library lending are concerned that digital library checkouts may cut into paid book sales (and worry about other things too), but Rowling and Pottermore clearly feel that the benefits of making the e-books available in school and public libraries outweigh any disadvantages.

The announcement does not contain any more details about when the delayed Pottermore will officially launch.