The topic of this article doesn’t really have anything to do with lending (at least not yet) but the hint that Harry Potter “might” be coming soon to an e-reader near you is making waves in the news, today.

Some of what is being said in the article warrants derision comment:

And publishing industry experts said they will transform the electronic market and easily net the author £100million.

Ah. “Experts.” It’ll be interesting to see who that refers to. Anyone want to place bets on whether it’s someone with actual insider knowledge?

By “transform the electronic market” do they mean we’ll see advances in ebook ownership rights? That this will pave the way for less restrictive lending features? Can we expect interoperability between various devices? Or, do they mean they’ll make more money than they’ve ever made before, selling a book to people who already paid a lot for it the first time they bought it?

Rowling’s spokeswoman said: “The ebook format is now something that is being actively considered.”

Squeeeee! And it only took them until 2011 to begin the process of actively considering the e-book format.


(We’d been holding our breath.)

Actually, raise your hand if you assumed the entire Harry Potter series was already available in a digital format. 

Rowling’s fortune is estimated at £620million but Liz Thomson, editor of book industry website BookBrunch, said ebooks would give her another windfall.

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

Aha. Here we go. “Experts.” Okay, Liz Thompson, editor of BookBrunch, is the aforementioned expert. Whatever. Perhaps it wouldn’t be too surprising if that were the case, but it looks an awful lot as though the author of this article wrote the article first and then filled in the “experts” line with whoever provided the highest guess. (Later in the article, another “expert” is only willing to estimate that a deal could net Rowling “millions of pounds”. Quite a deviation.)

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

Experts think that, do they? They think that seven (admittedly, insanely popular) books which will sell for around $15-$20 (and which virtually everyone in the world already owns or has read) are going to trigger “rocketing sales” of devices that cost between $139 and $499 and which have been available for multiple years, now?

"It is akin to the Beatles allowing their music to be launched on iTunes - it really is that important.

This is why the opinions of industry experts should almost always be taken with a few thousand grains of salt.

The Beatles are, indeed, a great analogy, in that they, too, waited far too long to launch a digital presence, based primarily on absurd industry-based fears. To put this in perspective, Paul and Ringo completely missed out on the heyday of the iPod revolution which began in 2001. TEN YEARS! Virtually every major and minor band had already gone digital and the sudden appearance of “Hey Jude” was notable almost exclusively for its absurd tardiness. It affected absolutely no change whatsoever on the industry, and has had no discernible effect on the popularization of any given device.

No one, anywhere, said: “Well, I’ve been holding out on buying an iPod since 2001, but now that I can buy Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds from iTunes, it’s high time I wrote a check. My pen, Mavis!”

No one should applaud J.K. Rowling for this, or bow down as though she’s the savior of an industry. Instead, we should all be asking what the heck took so long, and wondering where we’d be today if she’d have gotten with the program two years ago, rather than waiting until other (better) writers paved the way for her arrival.