Well, that rumour about Pottermore being a smartphone was completely wrong. But that’s OK, because that was an idiotic prospect, and the truth is more interesting: Harry Potter will sell as ebooks for the first time ever. And that’s huge.
The Harry Potter print saga’s sold more than 400 million copies across the world. That’s an incredible number of books, but an incredible number of books that’ve only been sprayed onto tree carcasses – J.K. Rowling’s mint hasn’t gone digital until the debut of Pottermore.
Harry Potter doesn’t need your iPad to be legitimate. Its sales numbers and (hordes of crazed fans) speak for themselves.
Ebooks don’t need Harry Potter to be legitimate. Kindle and iPad numbers (and hordes of crazed users) speak for themselves.
But the union of these two, with Pottermore not only offering e-Harry, but being the only place on the internet to get it (though no word on formats), might turn the format into a media event.
Remember when The Beatles finally brought their mops over to iTunes? The fact that I say finally says it all. Their catalogue, despite being almost half a century old, was a big deal again. This was music that almost anyone with even the slightest bit of interest in the group had purchased or stolen years ago, and yet, the iTunes debut made headlines. Our headlines! Not so much for the music, but for what it meant: a legendary, and legendarily stubborn artistic entity caved. Fine, this computer music thing is for real. It was a mainstream zenith.
So too with Rowling. She could live in her golden palace paid for by the joyful screams of tweens and adults for the rest of her years without selling a hot dog, let alone a fleet of ebooks – and yet she’s digitising Potter. Putting the series online and onto our tablets and Kindles and Nooks and all the rest indicate a big-time cultural hegemony for the ebook realm – We’ve got Harry Potter, it can scoff at sceptics. And there’s no retort against that.