Home » Ebooks, Self-Publishing » Pottermore e-book launch pushed back to 2012

Pottermore e-book launch pushed back to 2012

3 October 2011

From The Bookseller:

Harry Potter fans will have to wait until the first half of 2012 for the series’ e-books as the opening of the Pottermore shop postponed from its planned October launch.

In a posting on the site’s blog, it said: “As our first priority is to get as many people onto the site as possible, we have decided to open the shop in the first half of 2012. We will keep you updated with news about the Pottermore Shop here on the blog over the next few months”.

It also said it was extending the period of beta testing for the website, due to the “phenomenal” level of site interaction.

Link to the rest at The Bookseller

Passive Guy is interested in the part about site interaction among beta users. On the one hand, it’s very positive for any site to have lots of visitor engagement.

On the other hand, reading between the lines, PG suspects the whatever software/hardware supports the interactive aspect of the site may have some serious problems. You usually want to design this sort of thing so you solve capacity problems by throwing more servers online or renting more cloud space. If that won’t address the problem, you’ve probably done your software design improperly and delay release.

In Pottermore’s case, a six-month+ delay does not look good at all and loses momentum for the project, which began with a huge bang when it was first announced. Plus you miss a huge Christmas sales opportunity for Potter ebooks in light of the Amazon announcement of new Kindles.

Ebooks, Self-Publishing

7 Comments to “Pottermore e-book launch pushed back to 2012”

  1. There is a blog post on the Pottermore site with a bit more info: http://bit.ly/oiMeba

    It seems they are delaying not just the release of the books, but the beta period is going to be extended and the full interactive experience won’t be open to the public for a while.

    They also said they had 550 million page views, which is quite a bit!

    I am a little puzzled by this though. On paper, selling e-books should be the technically easy part of what they are trying to do, and the main thing that is going to bring in revenue.

    I know JK Rowling isn’t short of cash, but in business terms it seems curious to duck what is shaping up to a bumper holiday period in both the UK and the US.

    Why would they not sell the e-books before the interactive stuff is ready? I don’t know, but maybe the site has other problems and can barely handle 1 million members as it is, without millions more seeking to buy e-books too.

    • You’re right, David, this is very strange. Why miss a big holiday sales bump?

      • The e-commerce section must not be ready to ship–given the problems they’re having with the site as a whole I’d guess the developers are all working on site stability and scalability. An ecommerce outlet isn’t hard to build, but it does take time to build it right and to do QA testing. And they obviously did insufficient QA on the beta site.

        • That’s a fair point, which indicates the “interactive reading experience” (don’t call it a game!) is a bigger priority than selling e-books (which, as you say, is a much technically simpler proposition).

          It’s their prerogative of course, but it seems a strange decision to leave so much money on the table during what promises to be a bumper holiday season.

          I was trying to think of valid reasons for this approach, but I’m stumped. Perhaps Rowling just wants to “give something back” before making more money off her fans, but I bet many of them would like the e-books to be available as soon as possible.

          It couldn’t be just about capturing data from the fans, a simple enough e-commerce site could handle that without having to open up the whole Pottermore site to the public. I don’t get it.

  2. I saw this as a completely different take, but I could be wrong….

    Everyone’s talking about ebook sales November and December, but the graphs I’ve seen (albeit from 2010 to 2011 and therefore ANCIENT) showed the huge bump in January and February. You know, AFTER people open their Christmas/Hanukkah gifts. 🙂

    I think they realized this, as the new ereaders aren’t even on the market. J. K. Rowling is not like other authors. If Pottermore isn’t a raving success (and 550 million visits tells me it IS) with the ebooks as in they don’t domineer the best seller lists, well actually there aren’t any for it domineer, but if sales are anything less than blow your mind, the critics will jump on it. I also don’t wonder if there won’t be some spring promotion of “Buy a Harry Potter eBook, get a $5 coupon off to Universal Studios Magical Wizarding World of Harry Potter.” There’s also the LAST Harry Potter movie coming out this November. Remember, we all have the print copies (shoot, I have two of most in paperback and all in hardback), so they have to convince us to buy another set electronically. (And yes, I will 🙂 ). But I wouldn’t feel hard pressed to buy them right now, before Christmas. Even if the ebooks were available, I would probably wait until the spring anyway.

    With a Kindle (and rumor has it a coming Nook) <$100 I know most families will swing that as the "big gift" this holiday season for anyone over the age of 8. Have you been to a toy store lately? A decent Nerf gun is $40! Lego sets? HA Also $40. An $80 device my kid can read on? Sold!

    • Elizabeth, $40 is the LOW end of the Lego world. *grin*

      My son sauntered into the kitchen while I was loading a Kindle for a conference silent auction. He mentioned he “wouldn’t mind getting a Kindle” for the holidays. The Kindle would definitely be cheaper than the $130-ish Star Wars Legos set he wants.

  3. I found this account of the Pottermore beta testing through a friend of a friend (yep, I’m geekily-connected like that).

    Sounds like they have serious infrastructure issues… I could see why they had to make the decision to delay release.


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