Harry Potter ebooks coming this fall – DRM-free

The hot story today was the official launch of Pottermore, J.K. Rowling’s new website. it’s going to have all sorts of interesting content for the pottermaniacs, including Harry Potter ebooks as well as “sumptuous newly-commissioned illustrations and interactive ‘Moments’ through which you can navigate, starting with the first book” and that Rowling has brought to life “both the Sorting Hat and Ollivanders experiences from her books for the first time on Pottermore, by revealing the questions asked by the Sorting Hat – which places newcomers into their Hogwarts houses according to their characteristics – and the magic behind the Wand Chooser – which finds the right wand for each user from over 33,000 possible combinations”.

While that’s very interesting, it’s not the big news today. The Inquirer is reporting that Pottermore will be selling the ebooks DRM-free.

The ebooks won’t be encumbered with DRM but they will come with watermarked data. This should make it possible to track a pirated copy back to the original source.

Okay, now I understand why the ebooks will be sold on just the one website. This new piece of data also lends credence to the twitter rumor that Kindle ebooks will also be supported. (Obviously they’re not using the Kindle DRM either.)

I have to hand it to J.K. Rowling, her agents, and her publishers for being more tech-savvy that I anticipated. Someone figured out that DRM doesn’t actually prevent piracy. And since they can’t prevent it, they picked the next best thing.

They’ll know which customer pirated which copy of the Potter ebooks. That’s going to put them at least 1 step up on publishers.

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.


  1. Mike Cane23 June, 2011

    Ah, so there will be Kindle too? So far, only ePub is mentioned. But it’d make sense for K too. How long before there are iOS/Andy/webOS app-books? Heh.

  2. Mike Cane23 June, 2011

    Wired UK also confirms DRM-free:

  3. Rowling will sell the Harry Potter ebooks on her own starting in October23 June, 2011

    […] This also suggests that Amazon will launch its U.S. library lending program by October. Update: Via The Digital Reader, the ebooks will be DRM-free but watermarked with the purchaser’s identity to dissuade […]

  4. Krystian Galaj23 June, 2011

    So, if they are able to identify a specific customer, and this customer’s copy makes its way onto the Internet in numbers, they’ll be able to sue that specific person for really big damages. I wonder if they plan to, as a deterrent.

    1. Nate Hoffelder23 June, 2011

      I don’t see how that would be practical What if the customer is in another country?

  5. Kate23 June, 2011

    Too late for them putting piracy watermarks on their books. There are loads of places online to download her books illegally. JK Rowling has missed the piracy boat.

  6. […] don’t get too worried; you’ll still buy the ebooks from Pottermore (so the promise of DRM free ebooks still stands). What this means is that if you like, you can transfer your newly purchased HP ebooks […]

  7. […] word from Pottermore Insider, the official blog. The Harry Potter ebooks won’t be making the original planned release date this fall. Pottermore, the official online community for Harry Potter fans, was due to launch the […]

  8. […] Do you recall the promise made last year that HP ebooks would be available in Epub & Kindle formats, DRM-Free? Yeah, it looks like that didn’t happen.Pottermore launched their ebookstore this morning, […]

  9. […] being provided by Booxtream, a several year old Dutch tech company.When Pottermore was announced last summer, one of its big selling points was the ebookstore where you’d find DRM-free ebooks. That […]

  10. […] read more about Pottermore, Rowling’s new website, and the coming Harry Potter e-books on the Digital Reader blog, at The Inquirer.net, and at Wired. Edited to add: The Wall Street Journal has a  detailed and […]


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