Monday, February 05, 2007

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Print

Those opportunities to make a change are rare and often few and far between. Imagine Stephen King’s ‘Riding the bullet’ today, would it make a difference in the digital market? Those whose memories are short or are genuinely unaware Mr. King serialized his novel, releasing it digitally on installment. ‘Riding the Bullet’ was too early to make that sea change then, but what about now?

We read today that Neil Blair, a lawyer from Rowling's literary agency, told Associated Press reporters last Sunday that there will be no Harry Potter digital editions of the new book or of any works in the series, for the foreseeable future. They fear piracy and cite the most recent book to be published in the series was illegally posted online in an E-Book format within twelve hours of its hardcover release. Rowling and her legal team are reticent to take steps that could enable or encourage further piracy.

However also cited was Rowling's personal preference for printed volumes over electronic publications. Rowling has publicly stated her partiality for writing and reading works on paper.

We also read today about Ian Rankin being the latest author to have new fiction picked up for serialisation in the New York Times. Serialisation is proving popular with newspapers and also cited in the article were Alexander McCall Smith in the Scotsman, Ronan Bennett in the Observer and previous fiction serialisations in the New York Times including Patricia Cornwell, Michael Connelly and Michael Chabon.
What is surprising is that we appear to have missed the opportunity to join the dots digitally. Imagine the demand that a chapter by chapter of Harry Potter would raise. Piracy of a the total book is easy but doing and selling it chapter by chapter is a lot harder for the pirates.

After all if serialization was good enough for the likes of Dickens then surely the digital serialization is good enough for Master Potter.