Harry Potter e-books? What does this mean?

Books / Religion / Web/Tech

I’m not sure if it’s a sign of the beginning of the end, or the end of the beginning, but on the new Harry Potter fan-site and e-commerce store that goes live late next month, you can finally by digital versions of all seven volumes of J.K. Rowling’s series.

“Until recently, reports have been speculating that the rights to sell the e-books would be worth as much as $160 million. By retaining the rights and selling them through her own platform, Rowling stands to make much more. She is not, however, completely turning her back on the hands that fed her—her publishers around the world will get a cut of e-book sales and will no doubt benefit from the “halo effect” of an uplift in print sales.

In a further bold move, Rowling has opted to keep the e-books DRM-free, meaning that they are not locked into one device or platform. She is instead opting for digital watermarking that links the identity of the purchaser to the copy of the e-book. This doesn’t prevent copyright theft but does ensure that any copies will be traceable to a particular user. This is similar to how iTunes is DRM-free, but embeds user account information within each file purchased.”

More here.

I saw a note online yesterday that Barnes and Noble is being kept afloat financially right now by the sale of its e-books and it’s Nook e-reader. I think I’ve mentioned before that Amazon reports that it’s Kindle editions are now outselling both the hardback and paperback versions of editions combined. Pretty amazing for a tech that’s only been on the market for a few years. I bought the very first Kindle on the first day it was offered. I’d been expecting something like this revolution to happen and it seemed to me that Amazon had the best shot of staying afloat long-term. (The one big concern to have about e-books is what happens when the company that sells them goes under. Most of the e-books have encryption that requires the companies servers to agree that you have permission to open them when you go to read one of them. That’s what’s nice about these new volumes from Pottermore. Like the iTunes tracks these days, it’s clear you bought them, so giving them away means you’re forever linked to them, but if the Apple goes out of business, your tunes will still play.)

How long do you think it’s going to take for the Episcopal Church to have a really good version of the Prayer Book and our Hymnals available for download and electronic reading? I have a copy of the Prayer Book on my iPad, but there are significant font issues in the app. It’s okay for emergency use, but it’s not a substitute for the real thing yet.

More to the point, how long till we start providing, via wi-fi, copies of the worship bulletin for download in the nave?

We’re installing a fiber connection to the Cathedral here in Phoenix this summer, and I’ll be putting wi-fi in the nave as soon as that’s completed. My plan is to have a local webpage that runs on a proxy when you get online using the nave’s network. That webpage should have the link to download the bulletin.

Thinking that through, we’ll have to make sure that the bulletin is useable on a phone or a tablet. I’m not sure I know how to do that yet. Anyone have any experience with such a thing?

The advantages to doing something like this are significant. As our congregation is growing, we’re using way more bread, wine and most of all, paper. And paper is getting really expensive. The electricity we’d have to use to make this system work is going to way less damaging to our bottom line than the truckloads of paper we’re using right now…

The Author

Episcopal bishop, dad, astronomer, erstwhile dancer...


  1. Paul Martin says

    Nick, I suspect you are on the bleeding edge of this stuff, but I would love to be proved wrong. I think there is a need for a community among us tech church folks to talk these issues out.

    I think the electronic prayer book and service leaflet are coming. I saw an interesting rumor on web about Kindle pricing. Someone plotted the price of a Kindle as a function of time and extrapolated the date when the Kindle would be free. (It was a remarkably linear fit.) The blog author had an opportunity to mention this to Jeff Bezos, and the CEO’s response was, “so, you noticed!” I don’t know if Kindles are ever going to be free, but they are certainly getting cheap, and that means ubiquitous.

  2. re: the need for community – I’m thinking along the same lines Paul. And I’m going to see what I can do to use this particular site for that purpose. It’s important to us as missionaries in a culture that’s wildly different from what most of us grew up with, and there’s a group of readers here who are already thinking along these lines.

    I saw the same rumor about the Kindle. I’ll raise you one more. With JK Rowling’s e-books probably being released in e-pub format, (which the Nook and the iPad can already read) I’ll bet we’ll see the Kindle adopt this as a supported format. That means we’ll finally have a cross platform way to put material out there for people to download onto their preferred platform.

  3. Bill Ghrist says

    I recently bought my wife a nook for her birthday, so I am a bit of a neophyte at this. One of the reasons for choosing it over the Kindle was its support for the e-pub format, which means she will be able to borrow e-books from the library. A catch to that, however, is that they cannot be downloaded directly to the nook; they have to be transferred via computer. I’m not sure whether that limitation is due to the format or simply an arbitrary constraint that books (paid or free) cannot be obtained directly by the nook from anywhere other than B&N’s online store. This would make it more complicated for some folks to get an “e-bulletin” in church.

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