Will Harry Potter bring his magic to ebooks?

The Associated Press reports that J.K. Rowling, author of the popular Harry Potter series may, just may be ready to bring the magic of witches and wizards into the 21st century by publishing the popular titles as ebooks. This is significant news because, with the end of the movie franchise in sight, Rowling needs to develop another means of getting her works into the hands of her young audience.

Rowling’s resistance to epublishing is well-known although her exact reasons remain elusive. Some have speculated it is an effort to retain and maintain control over works that have made her one of the world’s richest women. Indeed, Rowling has battled to retain ALL rights not specifically assigned or sold elsewhere close to home.

Rowling says she is flattered by fan fiction though her action have not always borne this out. It appears that the only flattery she truly enjoys is that which builds her bank account and reputation as opposed to the bank accounts and reputations of the creative individuals helping to perpetuate her franchise. Her spokesperson said as much to the BBC back in 2004:

“JK Rowling’s reaction is that she is very flattered by the fact there is such great interest in her Harry Potter series and that people take the time to write their own stories.”

“Her concern would be to make sure that it remains a non-commercial activity to ensure fans are not exploited and it is not being published in the strict sense of traditional print publishing.”

Concerns over digital piracy, however, cannot bear full responsibility for Rowling’s reluctance to epublish. Especially since a number of high-tech tools are making it increasingly easy for individuals and companies to respect copyrights.

One must also consider the timing involved. Not only are the movies reaching their end, two clear leaders have emerged in the war between ereaders, Amazon’s Kindle, and tablet makers, Apple’s iPad. Certainly other platforms and hardware are vying for pieces of the epublishing pie, but the Kindle and the iPad having already consumed large chucks of it are still hungry for more.

What is at stake is the hearts and mind of the first generation of readers and book lovers who will know more ebooks than traditional books. Which platform Rowling chooses will have a huge ripple effect because that device is virtually guaranteed to become a “must have” device for young readers and therefore a “must buy” device for parents.

Liz Thomson, editor of book industry website BookBrunch, told the Sunday Mail that moving into ebooks would provide Rowling another financial windfall.

“I wouldn’t be too surprised if the rights for the ebooks are sold for £100million.

“Experts believe the move could revolutionise the world of electronic publishing, triggering rocketing sales of ebook readers such as the Kindle and the iPad.”

You can bet both companies are wooing her for everything they are worth. All that remains is to see which is the better lover and how much that matters to Rowling. You can be sure that whatever she chooses, it’s going to be a game-changer for electronic publishing.