If, by some strange happenstance that admittedly seems improbably considering the character’s prominence in the past past few years, you’re an Amazon Kindle user who has never had time to discover Harry Potter, then here’s a little publishing magic for you: Amazon and Pottermore, the official online home of all things Potter, have come to an agreement that will let Kindle Lending Library users borrow one Potter book for free per month, starting next month.
The deal, announced today, makes all seven books in J.K. Rowling’s uber-successful series available for free to American Amazon Prime customers as of June 19, although only one book in the series will be available per month to users. According to Pottermore CEO Charlie Redmayne, offering the books for free may seem counter-intuitive, but is actually just good business:
It’s a commercial deal that makes sense even with a level of cannibalization of my sales, but I believe it will actually drive greater sales. The way the deal is structured means that any lost sales are more than made up for. Yes, some people will borrow from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library and therefore not buy, but Amazon is paying us a large amount of money for that right, and I believe it’s a commercial deal that makes sense.
Unsurprisingly, Amazon and Pottermore are not disclosing the details of the deal, so the actual size of that “large amount of money” will remain the subject of speculation and mystery for some time to come. Nevertheless, the deal makes a lot of sense for both sides; not only have the Potter series long been amongst the most-requested books through digital library service Overdrive, but the example of similarly-popular Young Adult book series The Hunger Games suggests that library lending will drive sales: Amazon has previously reported that 19 percent of those who borrowed the first book in the series from the Kindle Library went on to purchase the second and third books to read immediately (Now that one-book-per-month limit makes slightly more sense, doesn’t it…?).
This news is apparently just the first announcement from the next phase of Pottermore. In an interview with the British Guardian newspaper, Redmayne teased that the site will be announcing new platforms and new partners without naming any names other than Apple, who were specifically mentioned as one of the companies the site hasn’t finalized a deal with it. But with over £3,000,000 ($4.8 million) worth of digital Potter books sold in the first month of release through the site, it’s unsurprising that other companies are looking to sign up for a stint at the virtual Hogwarts. Profits Engorgio, as the boy wizard himself might say.