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Pottermore not just pottering

14 May 2012

J K Rowling’s Pottermore site seems to have succeeded all expectations. The ebook store has sold £3m worth of Harry Potter ebooks in its first month. Sales appear to have been driven by pent-up demand and sales values are high because many fans are buying the complete ebook bundle, which is priced at £38.64.

Charlie Redmayne, Pottermore CEO, said: ‘Over the past two weeks we've seen sales settle down, but they remain very significant, and way beyond what we originally budgeted for.’

The Pottermore website is achieving very significant numbers of visitors already. The Harry Potter experience has seen 22m visits from 7m unique users in its first two weeks, generating more than 1bn page impressions, with the average user visiting 47 pages, spending an extraordinary 25 minutes on the site.

Visitors to the site have been taking advantage of the fun activities it offers. There have been 4.2m attempts to make potions, with a success rate of just 32%. In those first two weeks there had been 39.9m "wizard duels" with the "full body bind" spell the most popular, and "pimple jinx" the least used. Redmayne said that after two weeks 5m new users had registered, with perhaps half of those already sorted into houses, such as Gryffindor and Ravenclaw. ‘Given how we launched it, at 8.15 in the morning when most people were asleep, almost anti-marketing it, we were very pleased. It has been amazingly successful and shows the power of the Harry Potter brand,’ he said.

It was J K Rowling’s personal decision to make the site digital rights management free. Because of the site's light-touch DRM, piracy is thought to have diminished. Redmayne commented that: "We have demonstrated that if you make these books available in the way that people want them, and on a platform that is accessible to them, and at a price they are happy with, then generally people will chose to buy them." Publishers will be watching with interest to see the long-term effect of taking this approach.

The e-books have done particularly well in the library community with  digital books occupying 51 of 80 possible positions on library e-book supplier OverDrive's most downloaded e-books from the library lists for the US, UK, Canada, and Australia.

The latest sign of this is a library deal with Amazon, not slow to get involved when such a big brand is on offer. Before this, digital book readers were only able to download the Harry Potter books as e-pub books through the Pottermore website, and then transfer them to their e-readers. From on 19 June, all seven Harry Potter e books will be available in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, which is only available to Amazon Prime members. (Amazon Prime is a service that provides free shipping and discounts for $79 a year.)   The Lending Library allows Kindle owners to borrow ebooks for free, rather than pay for each particular title.

The full impact of the high-profile Pottermore site is not yet apparent, but it has got off to a cracking start and seems not to be afraid of trying out new things.