You’ve probably noticed that J K Rowling has announced a new website called Pottermore. As far as I can make out from the video embedded on that site, it’s somewhat in the Star Wars: Galaxies mould. I got a whiff of Willy Wonka from the video, but that might be my office needing a clean.
Rather more interesting for me, with my ‘independent writer’ hat on, are the comments generated by an article in the Bookseller, J K Rowling to take Potter digital.
What is clear…is that the digital content will be published under the imprint Pottermore Publishing, rather than by her print publisher Bloomsbury, which does not own the digital rights.
Actually, I’m not sure this is clear. As comment Peter Cox points out:
JK Rowling has confirmed that she will release paid-for e-book versions of her incredibly successful Harry Potter books from her new website Pottermore “in partnership with J K Rowling’s publishers worldwide”.
Whether the ebooks will, or will not, involve her physical-book publishers, my eye is drawn to those commenters who believe that when digital rights revert to the author (or stay with them because they are unsold), the publisher should retain a percentage of the sales because the publisher helped to edit the book.
Both viewpoints are justifiable: The author can reasonably claim that if the publisher wants the digital rights, they can pay for them. The publisher, by contrast, might argue that the text of the finished product is a composite of the author’s work and the editors who helped her render it.
Morally, should Bloomsbury be rewarded to helping to edit the book?
Commenter Peter Cox writes:
Without [Bloomsbury’s] clever marketing there would be no Pottermore launch today; it stands on their shoulders.
That’s a strong claim. I don’t think there’s any evidence that Bloomsbury significantly contributed beyond the usual ‘background noise’ publicity that minor, new books get.
I do wonder how much one would credit an editor in a work of prose. I certainly include the names of my two editors — Aliya Whiteley and Clare Christian — prominently in my books. The idea that they are co-writing the book is a tricky one. Let’s say I suggest to a painter that a particular viewpoint might make a nice sketch. Did I produce the sketch? Hardly.
This does make me wonder, however. I think you’d see some commonalities between books that have been edited by a particular individual, much as you’d see commonalities between music albums and their producers. But producers aren’t in the band. Only the band are in the band.
Jesus, I hate Dobby.