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Old 02-04-2007, 06:34 PM   #1
Alexander Turcic
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There ain't no Harry Potter magic in e-books

Once again Pottermania will sweep throughout the world when the next and final instalment of the young magician's adventures goes on sale this July. Millions of fans will line up at stores or wait eagerly at home for their copy to arrive by mail. And once again, a few muggles will be left out. Neil Blair, an attorney with Rowling's publisher Christopher Little, told Associated Press that the author has not allowed to release the Potter stories as e-books and also that she has no plans to do so.

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Rowling has cited two reasons over the years: concern about online piracy (which has never been a major problem for the Potter books), and the desire for readers to experience the books on paper. E-books, hyped as the future of publishing during the dot-com craze of the late 1990s, remain a tiny portion of the multibillion dollar (euro) industry.
Dear Mrs. Rowling, with my utmost respect and admiration, a little slice from the magical world of Harry Potter would have been of great help to the e-book cause. So once again, it'll be up to a couple of piracy collaborators to convert printed copies of your book into electronic format and to swap illegal download links on the Internet. Just because you can't conceive of book piracy doesn't mean it can't happen.

I wish people would understand that the old argument that no one likes reading on a computer or an electronic device has pretty much eroded (or else nobody would be reading this).
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Old 02-04-2007, 07:05 PM   #2
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...the desire for readers to experience the books on paper...
Wow, she's actually a Luddite. Who knew? Then again, perhaps we shouldn't be surprised. The item in her books most similar to eBooks may be Riddle's diary, which is unquestionably evil (though a case could perhaps be made for the Marauder's Map). But news in the wizard world still travels on pulped trees carried about by clever owls, even if the printing process does allow for moving pictures, and the students still buy their books in printed, bound form and write on parchment with quills. Quite the contrast to Garth Nix, whose "Book of the Dead" and "Atlas of the House" can change each time they're read, or Diane Duane's wizardry manuals, which update themselves and can be used to send messages between wizards (and to perform complex calculations, for that matter). Several of Nix's and Duane's books are available in electronic format from the usual vendors, though not those aimed at "younger" readers, sadly. I think these authors understand the magic inherent in all books. Too bad Rowling doesn't.
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Old 02-04-2007, 07:14 PM   #3
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I agree. Her past few HP books, while not sold in digital format, have been readily available to those who choose to look for them. I wonder how much money her publisher is losing to her each year due to their failure to adapt; re: Darwin
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Old 02-04-2007, 08:03 PM   #4
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Her smug superiority on this issue annoys me. I always thought the experience was in the writing and story, not the delivery method I use to inject it into my brain. If she's so set on paper, why exactly are they made available as audio books?

These books will be available in electronic form within hours of the book's release. Many honest people among us will buy the paper book but read it on the downloaded "bootleg" copy. The experience will still be our choosing, she's just making it more inconvenient.

I suppose we should be happy she can't decide that her books are best if read at certain hours of the day or that they need to be finished within a certain time period.

I have a client who sells electronic versions of her book, but prices it at twice the paper price-- her reasoning is that it deters piracy. I just don't get how some people come up with these things.
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Old 02-05-2007, 12:26 AM   #5
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If she's so set on paper, why exactly are they made available as audio books?
Excellent point! And a good laugh too, I can always use a good laugh.
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Old 02-05-2007, 07:27 AM   #6
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Not to mention the movies. To quote a Dilbert character, "They backed a truckload of money up on my lawn. I'm only human!"
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Old 02-05-2007, 12:18 PM   #7
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HI,

It really is a missed oppurtunity to make some money from those who really want a digital copy of these books to read on the run.

I have seen beautuful digital versions of these available and I know people would chunk up some money to have the "official" digital versions but this will not happen anytime soon.

David
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Old 02-05-2007, 12:48 PM   #8
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She writes her book by hand, what can you expect? If she was computer literate and used that fantastic imagination to think about what magic could be done with her books digitally, she might change her mind.
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Old 02-05-2007, 01:09 PM   #9
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Writing by hand doesn't necessarily mean she's not computer literate (I have no idea if she is or isn't, though she does have a really nice web page that seems to be updated fairly regularly ), some folks just find it easier to write one way or the other -- she might just be a really slow typer.

Aside from that detail, I agree that she seems to be not applying her notable imagination to the matter.
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Old 02-05-2007, 01:11 PM   #10
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Or... She's stalling, in a marketing coup, to bring back Harry when his popularity fades away in a couple of years. She will have to then because eink will be everywhere.
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Old 02-05-2007, 01:13 PM   #11
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Quote:
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Writing by hand doesn't necessarily mean she's not computer literate ...
Maybe she cannot afford a PC...
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Old 02-05-2007, 01:23 PM   #12
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Heh, she's mentioned on her website that her time on the Expert setting of MineSweeper was down to 99 seconds (of which I can only stand in awe ), so she has to have at least -- what? An old 286? -- to play that on.
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Old 02-05-2007, 01:33 PM   #13
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Although she provides content for her web site, it's administered by lightmaker.com, who are professional web developers (with quite an impressive portfolio). Interestingly, it's a site designed to allow for accessibility through a text-only version, but is primarily accessed through a flash-based puzzle format. (I think it was usability expert Jakob Nielsen who once commented that the navigation of your site was no place to experiment with artistic puzzles the user would have to work to figure out-- unless you were creating a website about the mysterious adventures of a boy wizard.)

Perhaps she's just never seen a good ebook reading device. The piracy concern is just silly, at this point. As others have pointed out, the digital version is available within 24 hours anyway, and Potter fans are well enough organized that anyone who wants a copy should have no trouble finding one.

I don't think it's really about the money, though. She's -- how does the expression go-- "richer than the Queen," after all. Probably someone needs to make the point with her that eBooks are more accessible to those with vision challenges (who might not want to hear the book read aloud in someone else's voice), as well as less expensive to distribute to low-income kids in third-world rural areas, or at least they will be once the OLPC project gets going. She seems to respond to charitable appeals as well as anything.
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Old 02-05-2007, 01:39 PM   #14
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Hmmm, perhaps Sony should send her a Reader!
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Old 02-05-2007, 01:54 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NatCh
Hmmm, perhaps Sony should send her a Reader!
You bet -- preloaded with Garth Nix's Abhorsen trilogy, Paolini's Eragon and Eldest, and Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, Neil Gaiman's Coraline. Also throw in the works of E. Nesbit and J.M. Barrie from manybooks.net. (I'd also have recommended Tolkein's works, but I don't see them available at Sony Connect or at manybooks.net). These are works with which she is frequently compared and in some cases, which she has acknowledged as some of her own favorite reading materials in days gone by. With any luck, she'll leave the Reader where her daughter, Jessica, can find it. (In fact, sending it to Jessica in the first place might be the way to go. "Gee, Mum, why aren't your books on here?" )

Anybody here got an in with Sony?
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