Pottermore – the website that sells all the Harry Potter ebooks has developed a couple of marketing strategies that are completely new in the ebook world,and that appear to be working very well.
These strategies are also working very well for us the consumers, and also for the main distributors of ebooks (Sony, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Kobo). Win – win all round thus.
There are really two new strategies they have put into place, the first is possible owing to the extraordinarily strong position of the Harry Potter Franchise in the marketplace and probably wouldn’t happen for a lesser product.
What they have done is to make deals with the big ebook distributors in which the Harry Potter ebooks are offered on the online ebook stores of those companies, but they do not actually sell them to you, you are instead sent to the Pottermore website and buy the ebooks there, and presumably the referrers get a sort of finders commission on all Harry Potter ebooks sold via their online stores.
This is how it works.
You go to the Nook, Sony, Kobo or Kindle site and select a Harry Potter title. After selected, a pop-up appears, which reads:
You are on your way to enjoying your Harry Potter ebook by purchasing it through the Pottermore website.
You’ll be taken to Pottermore.com and asked to sign in or create a new account. Once you do, you’ll immediately get access to this book, and other exclusive writings from J.K. Rowling.
A bit around the houses……
I know, why not simply go directly to Pottermore and buy the ebook you want, rather than going via Amazon or whichever? Good question in my view, but it apparently works and people are buying their Potter ebooks in droves via this route.
What it does do is to spread the joy, money and publicity about these ebooks at no real cost to Pottermore or the purchaser.
The idea here that is new is the fact that normally, a publisher will publish an ebook, then distribute it to the various online ebook sellers, who will then advertise and sell the ebook to you directly, but here Pottermore are using Amazon et.al. to drive customers to their own store. This has never been done before.
When Pottermore CEO Charlie Redmayne was questioned about this idea, he discussed it in the following terms:
“Publishing companies now need to understand that the thing people like Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other retailers really respect, is a brand. If we’ve demonstrated anything, it’s the power of a brand”.
In taking what was previously (legally) unavailable – Harry Potter ebooks – and making them widely available, Pottermore was able to get Amazon and others to agree to a distribution deal that normally would have been unheard of.
He then went on to say.
“What Amazon wants for its customers is the widest possible selection and the best possible price,and that’s what Pottermore offers”.
When asked if this was a sales model that other products could perhaps use, he was less sanguine, as it will only work with a product (ebook in this case) that was a guaranteed huge seller, and there are not really many of those out there. He felt that perhaps the Lord of the Rings books or The Hunger Games might be possible subjects for this approach.
DRM – Pottermore throw it out the window.
The other idea that the folk at Pottermore have come up with is to sell the Harry Potter ebooks without the classic and dreadful version of Adobe DRM (the system to stop people making copies of their ebooks) which ties us to a particular ereader and to a large extent, also to one online ebook seller.
They have instead opted for a system of watermarks, as they call them, which identifies the purchaser of a particular ebook via software in the body of the ebook, so they can easily see who purchased the ebook if it suddenly appears on an illegal download site, and then chase the person who purchased that particular copy. (so do not lose your ereader!)
From our point of view, it has the wonderful ability to bung the ebook onto any ereader we have that supports whichever ebook format we chose when we bought the ebook. So we can easily lend it to our brothers, sister and so on without having to lend our ereader as well – simply copy it over to their ereader…..
Peak in illegal downloads.
When they first started to sell these ebooks with this system, there was an immediate surge in illegal copies of the ebooks on various torrent sites.
However, an interesting thing then happened. There was apparently a wave of anger among the people on the web against this illegal copying, with them saying it was both stupid and counter-productive of these thieves to do this, as it would discourage Pottermore and other publishers from using this user-friendly form of copyright protection, one that seemed to meet all of the demands of us, the customers.
Rather wonderfully, this resulted in a lot of these illegal copies of the Harry Potter ebooks being withdrawn from such sites, and according to Redmayne, the piracy rates of these ebooks fell by about 25%.
As a result of this behaviour on the part of the Netizens, Pottermore are perfectly happy to continue to use their watermark system to protect their copyright, and with any luck, all other publishers will take it up as well, and finally lay the God awful Adobe DRM we all hate so much to rest, and allow us to feel as if we actually own our ebooks, and are no longer seen as potential thieves by the publishers.
So, there you have it, Pottermore have set up two marketing strategies which will effect how we buy and use our ebooks. Personally I feel that whilst the first one (using other online sites to drive customers to them) is interesting, I don’t see it as very significant for us the customers, but the second, the water mark copyright defending system is a real breakthrough for us all, and will have huge implications for how we buy and read our ebooks from now on, of this I am certain.
Image, with thanks: Fitness and Spice Marketing.
Share with us.
What are your views on these two marketing strategies that Pottermore have put in place. Do you think they will effect how we think about ereaders and ebooks in the future, or is it not really important in your view?