★ More Pottermore

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.

Just say­in’.

Author: Ian Hocking

Writer and psychologist.

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