British author, J.K. Rowling, who has sold approximately seven kajillion books with her Harry Potter series, has turned the self publishing world on it’s ear by going completely solo with the publication of the ebook versions of these insanely popular young adult novels. Let’s step back and take a look at why she decided to do this and exactly what it means for the industry.

The first thing to note is that Harry Potter ebooks will be available only through Rowling’s website. Amazon, Barnes & Noble, as well as her traditional publishers are cut out of the picture. This means no splitting revenues with anyone else. Following the grand tradition of the rock band Radiohead, who allowed their record label contract to expire so they could sell music directly to the fans on a pay-what-you-want model, Rowling, as the most economically influential writer alive today, is turning her back on the old-fashioned publishing industry in order to go directly to her fans.

In this time of industry upheaval, this is a BIG DEAL, and puts the genuine stamp of approval on the do-it-yourself model, adding to the string of success stories already in the books – Amanda Hocking, J.A. Konrath, and John Locke, we’re talking to you. That J.K. Rowling will sell another seven kajillion books is not up for debate. It will happen, and will go a long ways towards making the public look upon the ebook revolution as legitimate.

Of course, Rowling’s people will still have to insure that the millions of Kindle, Nook, iPad, and other devices which are used to read ebooks, work in conjunction with her releases, but that shouldn’t be too much of challenge. Another point to consider is that Rowling will now be in personal possession of the sales and demographic information related to her buying audience. This is data that publishers have long jealously guarded as a trade secret, because it offers a direct pipeline for marketing future releases.

At Speaking of Wealth, we would simply like to offer our congratulations to this bold move undertaken by the one writer in the world powerful enough to turn an industry upside down in one fell swoop. Well done, Ms. Rowling, well done. And the Chinese proverb (or was it a curse?) continues to hold true. We ARE living in interesting times.

The Speaking of Wealth Team






(Flickr / markwainwright)