The sorting hat
Apple has secured a unique worldwide deal to offer enhanced editions of all seven books in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series through the iBooks store, the first time enhanced digital versions of the author’s works have been made available outside of her own Pottermore website.
“I’m thrilled to see the Harry Potter books so beautifully realised on iBooks for the digital world; the artwork and animations in these enhanced editions bring the stories alive in a delightful new way.” (J.K. Rowling.)
What this means is that customers can download individual books featuring the original text, boosted by interactive animations and elaborate artwork designed to bring even more life to the tales.
The illustrations come from the Pottermore collection and were reimagined for Apple’s platforms (iPhone, iPad, iPod, Mac).
The animations add a new dimension to the novels – in one scene, for example, Rita Skeeter is seen using her green ‘Quick Quotes Quill’ to write notes of her conversation with Harry Potter, while readers will probably enjoy the interactive Quidditch match hidden inside the book. In another scene, you see snow blow across the train parked at Kings Cross, and some assorted junior wizard baggage shake. You can even enjoy these interactive extras on TV through Apple TV.
Finally, to make the books even more interesting to fans, the author has also written annotations that have been peppered throughout the text (Time describes these as like “slipped notes on parchment” that the author has hidden between the pages).
The books are available in 32 countries today, with an additional 18 countries scheduled for November 9 release – I’m not certain yet if these titles will be made available via Apple’s recently opened iBooks China store. They cost $9.99 in the USA.
Who are you?
That’s all good, and I’m sure fans of the franchise will be excited to purchase the digital versions of the titles, but the move to offer them via Apple’s bookstore also underlines the quality of the company’s interactive publishing platform – after all, only Apple can guarantee similar user experiences for iBooks users across its platforms.
Given that Rowling’s much loved character, Albus Dumbledore says, “it is our choices that show what we truly are,” the move to favor Apple above its competitors speaks volumes. This is the first time books by J.K Rowling have been made available in digital editions through any outlet but her own.
The move should also attract attention to the author as she prepares to release the Deluxe Edition of Harry Potter Illustrated next month – today we also have a digital equivalent.
The new titles also provide uniquely compelling showcases for the potential of the company’s eBook publishing platform, iBooks Author, a significantly updated version of which shipped on September 30.
The latest version of iBooks author offered templates and support for MultiTouch widgets for interactive photo galleries, movies, presentations, 3D objects and more Retrospect always provides perfect vision, and it now seems likely (given the use of some of the new iBooks Author features in these titles) that Apple and Rowling’s publishers must have worked together on the new books.
As I see it, this has been a fait accompli for Cupertino's iBookstore team (despite the weird stringent oversight they are enduring as the US legal system protects Amazon's monopoly), as it seems clear that working with one of the world’s best-selling authors on this project has served as a brilliant way to showcase how effective its publishing platform has become.
That’s not to say digital editions are right for everyone, as JK Rowling herself said when launching a novel in London in September 2012: “You can’t read iPads in the bath,” though she has previously conceded “the MacBook Air changed my life”.
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