Amazon adds DRM to ‘DRM-free’ Harry Potter eBooks

Those expecting to unwind with all seven Harry Potter volumes in glorious, DRM-unencumbered pixel are likely in for a disappointment, according to early buyers.

An original announcement about the pending digital publication of J.K. Rowling’s epic said Rowling’s Pottermore site, “will sell DRM-free eBooks of the series for the first time.”

Apparently, not exactly. Nate Hoffelder of The Digital Reader blog writes he brought a copy and tried load it directly into the Kindle app for Windows — and got an error message. After contacting Amazon.com, he said he was told, “All titles that are pushed wirelessly from Pottermore to Kindle, or to other retailer’s eBook services and readers, are DRM encrypted at Pottermore’s request.”

So Hoffelder concludes that while technically, a Potter title starts as DRM-free at Pottermore, DRM is added once it passes through an eBookseller such as Amazon. Magically transformed, if you will.

Another magical element? How Rowling’s deal with Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble and others — requiring customers to create a Pottermore account before buying the eBooks — actually lets Pottermore share in valuable customer data, data that’s normally opaque to authors when a third-party seller delivers a physical or eBook.

Some Digital Reader blog comments note there may be workarounds to the normally invisible cloak of DRM. But none that are likely to appeal to mere non-nerd Muggles.

Previously on GeekWire: Harry Potter arrives on Kindle

Frank Catalano is a regular GeekWire columnist, and is assisting this week while Todd Bishop is off. You can follow Frank on Twitter @FrankCatalano.

  • http://www.davidarussell.co.uk/ David Russell

    There’s no need for a nerd workaround. Downloading the ebook directly from Pottermore gives a non-DRM protected epub file. This can then either be used directly (on most ereaders) or converted (for the Kindle).

    • http://www.intrinsicstrategy.com/ FrankCatalano

      I suspect just taking the extra steps, especially for the Kindle, may be too much hassle for some buyers. But then again, the ones who just want to read the book on a single device may not be the ones who care as deeply about DRM in this instance.

  • Billg
  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=664531244 Daniel Skatter

    Not sure why this is a problem. You link your ebook purchase to Amazon for your Kindle app/devices, and you also have a DRM-free ePub to do with what you will. How is this even an issue?