Friday, June 24, 2011
Quoth the Rowling, 'Pottermore.'
I'm posting this entry largely because I thought of the headline while walking the dogs yesterday and found it rather clever, since that repeated line in Poe's "The Raven" reads "Quoth the raven, 'Nevermore.'"
In case you hadn't heard, J.K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame is opening this fall a new web site called Pottermore (pottermore.com) that will, among other things, offer heretofore unknown ebook versions of all the Harry Potter novels. At the moment it's unclear whether Pottermore will be the place you'll have to visit to get the ebook version of any of the seven novels in the series or whether you'll also eventually be able to download them from Amazon or BN.com or any other ebook retailer.
If you'd like to get the details from Rowling herself, check out her Olympian announcement on YouTube. (What's Olympian about it? Click through and you'll see.)
ADDENDUM: It hadn't occurred to me that if Rowling is going to sell Harry Potter ebooks direct to her Pottermore visitors there's an inevitable question: how will they show up on a Kindle or Nook or Kobo or Sony or other ereader? After all, each of these devices is part of a walled garden ecosystem. I've sideloaded my share of public domain titles into my (now quaint first-generation) Nook 3G, but doing so involves a level of techno gruntwork Rowling will certainly not expect of her fans. Thanks to today's edition of Publishers Lunch, however, we learn that Barnes & Noble.com is "working closely with Pottermore to make Harry Potter ebooks available on our line of NOOK devices when the Pottermore store goes live." (Amazon has no comment on its plans.) Publishers Lunch also mentions that the Financial Times has reported that Pottermore will be selling downloadable Harry Potter audiobooks now sold on Apple's iTunes store -- and that iTunes will stop selling them when Pottermore begins. (Curiously, I just fired up iTunes and could find only one Harry Potter audiobook, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, now on sale there.) Meanwhile the planet's English-language brick-and-mortar booksellers are in despair. Harry Potter has been a godsend for them -- generating foot traffic from millions of shoppers eager to claim the latest installment and, presumably, one or two other books plus maybe some stationery, a jigsaw puzzle, a board game, a DVD, and so on. Pottermore seems certain to stem that revenue flow, perhaps irrevocably.
BTW: if you haven't read Poe's "The Raven" since high school when, like me, you found it a tedious and irrelevant 19th century fossil, by all means give it another look. It's really an extraordinary poem: inventive, ruefully amusing, with a manic intensity, helped along by its meter and profuse rhyme scheme, that builds as it goes along. When I first re-read it a couple of years ago -- only because my daughter was assigned it in her English class -- I could scarcely believe it was the same poem I'd sleepwalked through in 11th grade American Literature. I doff my hat to you, O divine Edgar.