J.K. Rowling will self-publish Harry Potter ebooks

This is major, major news to independent ebook authors, demonstrating the central claim they’ve been making: the gatekeeping function of book publishing companies is a historical accident, and technology has made them irrelevant. I’ll be writing about this in the days ahead, but for right now I wanted to rescue a very perceptive observation from comment hell, made by David Gaughran on Joe Konrath’s weblog:

Now that we have established what she is doing, I’d like to look at how she is doing it. […]

Selling through her own website

The e-books will be available from October. She is going to give a sneak preview to 1 million lucky readers who will be able to "shape the interactive gaming experience". If you are a Harry Potter fan you will be bouncing off the walls just imagining what that could be. From now until the end of July, you can enter your email address to be in with a chance to be one of those lucky 1 million. She will hoover up the email address of every single Harry Potter superfan in the world. Then she is going to sell directly to them.

Extending the life-cycle of her products

October will see the launch of the interactive reading experience of the first book only. The second book will come in 2012. Do you see what is happening here? The movies are at the end of their run. There’s no more coming out. Now she will have a "new Harry Potter release" for her fans every year – a new interactive version for them to experience – only on her website. She is tying them in. It’s genius.

She’s going to make another billion. [Emphasis added]

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