Harry Potter battled the forces of evil and now is set to conquer the web — coming to e-books in a groundbreaking deal that has delighted fans but alarmed the book industry that helped make creator J.K. Rowling a billionaire.
Rowling announced Thursday that her seven novels about the boy wizard will be sold for the first time as e-books, beginning in October, exclusively through a new online portal to her wizarding world called “Pottermore.”
The deal brings longtime e-book refusenik Rowling into the digital fold, but comes as a bitter potion to established booksellers, who will be shut out of the latest chapter of a vastly profitable saga.
“You can’t hold back progress,” Rowling told reporters in London. “E-books are here and they are here to stay.”
The Potter novels will be available as audiobooks and e-books in multiple languages, initially including English, French, German, Italian, Spanish and Japanese. Prices have yet to be set.
The “Pottermore” website, meanwhile, is an immersive online environment that combines elements of a role-playing game and a digital encyclopedia with social networking and an online store.
By selling directly to fans, Rowling is bypassing established online retailers like Amazon, although the creators of “Pottermore” say the books will be compatible with popular e-readers including Amazon’s Kindle, Sony’s Reader and Apple’s iPad.