Thursday, June 23, 2011

More proof that publishing is changing....forever!

For those that are not up on the recent J.K. Rowling's announcement about Pottermore here's the video straight from her:

This will be yet another revolution in publishing. To have a site (and here's the important part) that is controlled by the author who has exclusive rights to electronic distribution is MAJOR!!

Rowling's won't have to share distribution fees with Amazon or Barnes and Noble. She'll not have to compete with other books - everyone who comes to the site is there to buy. She'll provide access to intellectual property that no one but she owns. It's brilliant and something that only someone with the clout of Rowlings could pull off but expect to see a lot more of this from authors who receive a popular following.

From a business perspective, she has a lot of partners helping in this and some are big players: Sony, Scholastic, and even Warner Brothers as they apparently own the copyright on the Harry Potter Characters (when did that happen??)

Since the ebooks have never been published I suspect that Scholastic did not have the rights to them. After all the series started when ebooks were still in their infancy and no contracts at that time could have predicted what was to become. But I suspect, that a non-compete clause has prevented her from selling, or releasing for herself the ebooks rights as well. So they were basically in limbo with neither party able to do anything about it.

A press release issued by Scholastic indicates they will be getting a "royalty" from the ebooks published so my guess is Rowlings had to "pay" to get out of the non-compete by offering them a piece of the action. I also noted that all digital rights (including audio) are now in her control so she also probably paid a pretty penny for that but in the long rung well worth it to have complete control of her digital rights.

I'll be watching Pottermore's developments with great interest, it might just be a blue print for others to follow. After watching the video, all I could do was channel Ron Wesley with a awed, "That's bloody brilliant" comment.


Cathy @ Abnormally Paranormal Reviews said...

So, does this mean she really is self-publishing the HP ebooks? There are some people out there screaming their heads off about how she's not actually self-publishing just because some royalties are going to Scholastic.

If they are getting paid just because they own copyright, then it sounds like she really IS self-pubbing the books.

David Gaughran said...


She controls the rights. She is publishing the e-books through her own company, Pottermore. She is selling them exclusively through her own website.

It's more pure self-publishing than what I do.


Robin Sullivan said...

@Cathy - I've heard some others say this is not "self-publishing" which is totally ridiculous - It's pretty simple - who has the control -- who maintains the rights - in both cases it is Rowling - so without question she is self-publishing.

Robin Sullivan said...

@David - You bring up a good point - she is probably the ONLY true self-publisher because she sells "direct". The indies, for the most part, still rely on Amazon or B&N. There model is "more" direct then when a publisher is involved but it is when the money comes directly to the author that it is really true self-publishing.

Anonymous said...

I'll be following the progress of Pottermore. Its amazing at how the world of publishing has changed and I can see how many authors will follow her lead. Thanks for the clip and your article today.

Robert Bruce Thompson said...

I keep reading things like this about a non-compete preventing Rowling from self-pubbing ebooks, but that makes no sense to me.

If Rowling retained her ebook rights, those rights would be meaningless if she didn't have the right to exercise them. There are many older authors whose contracts did not grant ebook rights because ebooks did not exist when the contracts were made. Are you saying that those authors do not have the right to self-pub their backlists as ebooks or sell those e-rights to another publisher? If so, there must be many authors, not least Joe Konrath, who are in violation of non-competes.

Courts generally interpret non-compete agreements pretty tightly, to the extent that they are willing to enforce them at all. (This is particularly true of employment non-competes, but I suspect it's also true for publication rights.)

David Gaughran said...

What I'm more interested in is why the publishers didn't lock down e-rights in the later books.

In 1996/1997 e-rights weren't a big deal, but the seventh book was released in 2007.

cidney swanson said...

@David, I would imagine she was savvy enough to refuse any contract where she would have had to relinquish digital rights in 2007. She certainly had the clout at that point in her publishing career to sign only what she wanted to sign. I like your point (and Robin's) about the fact she's selling from her own site--no middleman involved. And I think it's great Scholastic is getting royalties--Arthur A Levine took her on when no one else would. I bet she's happy to be in a position to send them a royalty. On many levels-tee-hee!

Erin Edwards said...

This is the best explanation of what the Pottermore site is about and how it possibly came to be that I've seen so far. Thanks for the continuing insight into ebook publishing!

Cathy @ Abnormally Paranormal Reviews said...

Some people just hate self-published authors, I suppose, and refuse to see this for what it is. Her own publishing company putting out the HP ebooks. Truly "self-publishing". It's the smartest thing she could have ever done.

Robin Sullivan said...

@Robert - Yes that is exactly what I'm saying. When we got Michael's contract (with standard language) he maintained rights to a bunch of stuff including "multi-media" versions or enhanced ebooks. But the non-compete would prevent him from putting it out. We talked to a IP attorney that has done hundreds of contracts and he agreed with our intepretation of the contract. This was just one of the points we had to negotiate through.

As for Joe...its possible, even probable that his contract's non-compete lasted for some period of time (I hear that most do). So he couldn't put out an enhanced ebook in say .... 2 years after publication but once that time expired he could.

mary jane cryan said...

Makes me feel good about selling my books on my own: to bookshops (distribution and getting payments are the hard part) and exclusively through my website. My publishers take care of sending off the e-book version.

Chadchvj said...

Makes me feel good about selling my books on my own: to bookshops (distribution and getting payments are the hard part) and exclusively through my website. My publishers take care of sending off the e-book version.

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