Tuesday was a very special day for Harry Potter fans, as author J.K. Rowling finally released her popular series in ebook form. The virtual books initially went live on her Pottermore website for English-reading fans, and will be followed by editions in French, Italian, German and Spanish in a future wave. The first three Harry Potter titles are priced at $7.99 each, while the remaining four titles, which are longer, cost $9.99 each.
After the initial launch, the seven Harry Potter books then appeared on virtual stores provided by Sony, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. Unlike the Pottermore storefront where Rowling will keep most of the revenue, the three ebook giants will get their fair cut of the sales. So far Apple isn't offering the books, meaning iOS users will need to make purchases via the Kindle and Nook apps.
Veteran digital publishing executive Charlie Redmayne was reportedly brought in to get Rowling's storefront on track. He said that there wouldn't be a huge marketing campaign for the Harry Potter books because high demand for the titles will be enough to drive serious sales. He's probably right, as consumer demand reportedly took down Amazon's Kindle Store shortly after the online retailer began offering Rowling's books Tuesday afternoon.
Although Amazon hasn't released a public statement regarding to what happened, reports have indicated that the U.S.-based Kindle Store showed all titles as "currently unavailable" right after the Harry Potter books went on sale. More specifically, all books sold on Amazon's Kindle Store were still listed as usual, but they didn't have pricing or purchasing options. In other words, for a short time, all consumers could do was window shop.
Even more, Kindle magazines and Kindle Singles were also unavailable to purchase including USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post -- the New York Times remained surprisingly untouched. Internationally however, everything was business as usual -- North American residents were the only consumers left out on the sidewalk for the short duration.
Eventually the Kindle Store regained most of its functionality. The latest report claims that there are still a few instaances of "currently unavailable" books showing in the Kindle Top 100 list, but most all purchasing options have been restored to normal. Ultimately Amazon's store was down for the count for about an hour, all presumably due to Harry Potter and his band of misfit wizards.