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Gadgets

Harry Potter and the lucrative ebook windfall

JK Rowling is finally getting ready to release the Harry Potter books digitally, but will there be apps for that?

Did you know that the Harry Potter saga isn't available in ebook form? Author JK Rowling has never sanctioned a digital release for the series, although to be fair, she's had plenty on her plate with the books and their spin-off movies. Now it seems moves are afoot to finally give Harry and friends an ebook release for the iPad and Kindle.

The Scotsman has the quite-literally money quote, from Rowling's spokesperson: "The ebook format is now something that is being actively considered." Which, we grant you, sounds pretty cautious, given that the author could stand to make another packet from the ebook rights.

Book industry expert Liz Thomson tells the paper the rights could be worth as much as £100m. "Experts believe that move could revolutionise the world of electronic publishing, triggering rocket sales of ebook readers such as Kindle and the iPad," he says, before another expert, Stirling University's Professor Claire Squires, compares any such deal to The Beatles selling their music through iTunes.

All hype? The Beatles is a good comparison, since when they made their iTunes announcement with Apple last year, cynics wondered just how big a deal it would be, given that a) lots of people own Beatles CDs already, and b) the keener fans would probably have bought the remastered CDs that had been released in 2009. As it turned out, it was very popular.

That first question applies to the Harry Potter books too: people who queued outside bookshops to buy the original books are surely unlikely to rebuy them electronically. That said, if a new generation of children start expecting to read digitally rather than physically, putting Harry Potter on iBooks, Kindle and other stores would be a sensible move.

We hope Rowling goes further, though, and hooks up with an innovative app developer to make companion apps for each book, making use of interactivity and animation to complement the text, as we saw with the recent Nursery Rhymes with StoryTime app.