Harry Potter Ebooks

Today’s library twitterstream is buzzing with the news that the Harry Potter ebooks are now available at Pottermore. Books 1-3 are $7.99 each , and books 4-7 are $9.99 each. Or you can get the whole collection for $57.54. They also have audio books available for download. $29.99 for 1-3 each, and $44.99 for 4-7 each. Or get the whole shebang for $242.94.

While having these available as ebooks is news, the way these downloads work with devices is really interesting. For one, the ebooks don’t have DRM restrictions. Instead of DRM that locks the ebook to a specific retailer’s system, ebooks are “personalized” and watermarked with your name. So if you share your ebook files on the internets, the Pottermore crew can easily track who shared it.

The ebooks are also available in formats compatible with pretty much every available e-reader. Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Sony, Android devices, iOS devices: check, check, all of them yes. Audio books are available in MP3 format, so they’re compatible with every device with a headphone jack, as well.

Wait, the ebook you buy at Pottermore works with the Kindle and the Nook? Yes indeed. When you purchase an ebook, you can connect your Pottermore account to your Amazon or Barnes & Noble account. (I’m still hunting down whether you can connect to both with a single purchase.) By connect, I mean the Pottermore site opens a window where you can sign in to your Amazon/B&N account to link accounts. Your Kindle-compatible ebook will then get loaded through Amazon, but the entire purchase process happens at Pottermore. You can see this in action at Pottermore’s YouTube page.

Why would Amazon, and others, do this? Why would they let you purchase an ebook through another store and load it onto your Kindle–something they’ve never done before, according to this article at The Bookseller? With no inside information at all, I’d guess they just want it that bad. Same for Barnes & Noble, Google’s new store called Play. (Pottermore currently doesn’t have an agreement in place with Apple to link to the iBookstore, but the DRM-free file can be added to the iBooks app through iTunes, very easily.)

So you can buy the Harry Potter ebooks in one place and use it on the device of your choosing. And further, you can download the ebook a total of 8 times, in case you lose the file. Pretty nice. Here’s the bad news: you don’t own the ebook. Here are the details, straight from their Terms & Conditions page:

12.1  When you buy a downloadable book from us, what you are buying is the right to use that book in the way we explain below for your own personal, non-commercial use only:

The text describes how you can download content and use it on your e-reader. Under section 12.2 comes the next little nugget.

You may not and may not permit others to do any of the following things in relation to any book or extract:

§sell, distribute, loan, share, give or lend the book or extract to any other person including to your friends (except in the limited circumstances explained at 12.1 above);

You can’t sell it. That’s when you know you don’t own something. Pottermore files don’t have DRM to enforce this. All the same, you’re forbidden from loaning the ebook file to a friend, let alone selling it to a stranger on Craigslist.

If that takes the shine off, visit your local library’s ebook collection on Thursday, when the Harry Potter books should be available to read for free on the e-reader of your choice.

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