This article was updated to include additional information from OverDrive, Pottermore, SLJ and C/W Mars.
And now for a very exciting sequel…. Harry Potter and the Public Library. Pottermore, the Harry Potter ebooks site, entered into an exclusive worldwide ebook and digital audiobook distribution agreement with OverDrive for public and school libraries. This is the first time the Harry Potter ebooks have been available for library lending.
OverDrive will manage hosting and digital fulfillment for libraries of Harry Potter eBooks and digital audiobooks in English and more than 20 other languages. The seven books in the series will initially be available in English, French, Italian, German and Spanish, with more languages to follow. American libraries will have ebook versions of the American English text to lend and U.K. libraries, the British text.
The books are already available for pre-order through OverDrive’s Content Reserve, but a go-live date has not yet been announced, according to OverDrive spokesperson David Burleigh.
However Kristi Chadwick, access services supervisor of C/W MARS Inc., told LJ that according to Content Reserve, the date for both ebooks and audiobooks is April 30. Said Chadwick, “We have also received word both there and from the OverDrive announcements that the titles will have a five year lending limit.”
J.K. Rowling, author of the series, launched Pottermore last July, though the site is still in beta. Until then, the runaway bestselling series was not available in ebook form at all. Rowling chose to make Pottermore the exclusive source of the ebooks, which are DRM free, to make sure everyone got the same experience at the same time, LJ reported. For once, therefore, libraries will have a bestselling ebook that stores don’t, rather than the other way around.
Users will be able to read the OverDrive-provided Potter ebooks on devices such as the Sony Reader, Kindle (US only), NOOK, iPhone, iPad, Android phones and tablets, BlackBerry, and Windows Phone, as well as PC and Mac computers. The digital audiobooks will be available in MP3 format so they can be played on computers, smartphones and iPods.
Rowling wrote some 18,000 words of new material for Pottermore, LJ reported when the site debuted, but those “will be part of the Pottermore website experience and will not be available in the eBooks,” Pottermore spokesperson Rebecca Salt told LJ.
“I love that Rowling and Sony [co-sponsor of the Pottermore site] are including libraries as part of the audience for both ebooks and digital audiobook distribution,” Elizabeth Burns, youth services librarian for the New Jersey State Library Talking Book and Braille Center, told LJ’s sister publication School Library Journal. “It shows that they realize that libraries do not take away from a books audience; but they grow the audience.”