Here’s the “wizardry” that Amazon teased yesterday: Through an “exclusive license” with Pottermore, Amazon will make all seven Harry Potter e-books free through the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library starting June 19. KOLL which allows Amazon Prime members who own a Kindle to borrow one e-book free each month.
The e-books will be available in all languages, though the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library is only available to U.S. users.
“It’s a commercial deal that makes sense even with a level of cannibalization of my sales,” Pottermore CEO Charlie Redmayne tells me, “but I believe it will actually drive greater sales.”
“The way the deal is structured means that any lost sales are more than made up for,” Redmayne says. “Yes, some people will borrow from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library and therefore not buy, but Amazon is paying us a large amount of money for that right, and I believe it’s a commercial deal that makes sense.”
Moreover, Redmayne says the deal “enables people to discover Harry Potter” and thinks that most of the time, readers who “kind of wanted to [buy Harry Potter books] but haven’t…will go to KOLL, discover the brilliance of Jo Rowling’s writing and want to buy the rest and own the set.” Redmayne pointed to some statistics Amazon has previously released: The company said that in the case of the Hunger Games trilogy, which is available through KOLL, nineteen percent of customers who borrowed the first book in the trilogy went on to purchase one of the later books instead of waiting another thirty days to borrow it.
Jeff Bezos says regular libraries’ wait times are way too long
Harry Potter e-books are among the most-requested titles through digital library distributor OverDrive, and public library wait times can be long. With Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, “you never get put on a waiting list,” Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said in the release.
Redmayne was more supportive of libraries, telling me, “The deal we did with public libraries through OverDrive is very much about aiding discovery. Libraries have proven a very effective way of aiding that discovery and introducing people to brands.”
Pottermore also promises more platforms, but not Apple yet
Separately, Redmayne tells the Guardian that Pottermore will announce “new partners and new platforms for the site” in the “next few weeks,” but Apple isn’t one of them yet. (Apple uses the agency model for everything sold on iTunes; it hasn’t yet agreed to send users directly to Pottermore as other retailers have.) “We’re having conversations with Apple, but there is no date, no agreement. Would I like to be working with Apple? Absolutely.”
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