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All stories relating to Harry Potter

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J.K. Rowling to sell Harry Potter e-books directly through interactive fan site

In the lead-up to today’s much anticipated announcement from J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter fans had been told not to expect a new novel in the series, but that didn’t stop fevered speculation otherwise. While those still holding out hope for an eighth Harry Potter instalment may have been disappointed by today’s revelation, Rowling’s plans to launch a website containing troves of previously unpublished material are sure to have others salivating.

Most fans will have to wait until October 1 to access Pottermore, an interactive website containing 18,000 words of new material delving into the minutiae of the Harry Potter universe, but the first million users who register on July 31 – Harry Potter’s birthday – are being promised early access. At a press conference this morning in London, Rowling said the website will also include social media elements, allowing users to interact with each other. As quoted in the Guardian:

“I wanted to give something back to the fans that have followed Harry so devotedly over the years, and to bring the stories to a new generation,” Rowling revealed. “I hope fans and those new to Harry will have as much fun helping to shape Pottermore as I have. Just as I have contributed to the website, everyone else will be able to join in by submitting their own comments, drawings and other content in a safe and friendly environment. Pottermore has been designed as a place to share the stories with your friends as you journey through the site.”

The publishing world will no doubt closely monitor Rowling’s success in adapting the Harry Potter universe to the largely untested (save for certain examples) medium of the Web. Even more significant is the decision to begin selling e-books of the novels, which so far exist only in print, directly through the website (with technical support by e-book vendor OverDrive), bypassing established retailers. The digital editions will appear in ePub (meaning they will be compatible with all e-readers), with Rowling’s U.K. and U.S. publishers – Bloomsbury and Scholastic, respectively – receiving a cut. From the Guardian:

“It means we can guarantee people everywhere are getting the same experience,” said Rowling, of her decision to go it alone. “[I am] lucky to have the resources to do it myself and am therefore able to do it right. It’s a fantastic and unique experience which I could afford in every sense. There was really no other way to do it.”

Until recently Rowling had been reluctant to release the Potter novels as e-books, but she said that after downloading and reading an e-book for the first time she had a change of heart.

“It is my view that you can’t hold back progress. E-books are here to stay. Personally I love print and paper [but] very very recently for the first time I downloaded an e-book and it is miraculous, for travel and for children. So I feel great about taking Harry potter into this new medium,” Rowling said.

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Daily book biz round-up: turning poetry into e-books, and more

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Harry Potter, Dan Brown dominate U.K. list of best-selling books

The stereotype has it that England is filled with recondite literati ensconced in mahogany-lined libraries reading leather-bound volumes of Romantic poetry and plump Victorian novels. This as compared to the beer-swilling philistines in America, gorging themselves on a diet of Dan Brown and Tom Clancy (if they read at all). Well, newly released data indicates that this conception is flawed. Readers in the U.K., it would seem, have every bit as much devotion to Dan Brown as their counterparts across the Atlantic.

As noted in the Guardian over the weekend, Brown took the number one spot on Neilsen Bookscan’s list of the U.K.’s best-selling books released since the company began collecting data in 1998. According to the service, which tracks 90 per cent of book purchases in the U.K., The Da Vinci Code moved 4,522,025 units between 1998 and 2010, which accounted for a staggering £22,857,837.53 in revenue. Angels and Demons, Brown’s prequel to The Da Vinci Code, took the fourth spot on the list, with 3,096,850 units sold, accounting for sales of £15,537,324.84.

Not surprisingly, the bulk of the top 10 is devoted to Harry Potter: all seven of J.K. Rowling’s books about the boy wizard are featured, with the first in the series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, taking the number two spot. The only place in the top 10 not devoted to Brown or Rowling goes to Stephenie Meyers’ Twilight, which clocks in at number nine. In fact, one has to make it to number 13 before a title by an author not among the three already mentioned appears: Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones.

Perhaps surprisingly, Stieg Larsson does not crop up on the list until number 17, although the three novels in the Swedish author’s Millennium Trilogy came in at numbers one, two, and three respectively on the list of U.K. bestsellers for 2010.

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Daily book biz round-up: Yann Martel heads to Europe; Harry Potter heads to Orlando; and more

Scoops! Lots of ‘em!

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Daily book biz round-up: BEA wind up; iBookstore launch disappoints; and more

The news of the day, in six handy bullet points:

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Daily book biz round-up, April 7

Here’s the day’s links:

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Bookmarks: Jane Austen, Margaret Atwood, the Brontë sisters, and more

A few bookish links from across the Web:

  • To help you with the holiday shopping season, The Inkwell Bookstore Blog compiles a selection of gifts for the Jane Austenite on your list, including the Pride and Prejudice board game 
  • Margaret Atwood picks the top ten gifts to give a budding novelist
  • The New Yorker has compiled the top ten books of 1709. The most colourful title? Cotton Mather’s The Golden Curb for the Mouth, a sermon against swearing
  •  The Brontë sisters get a little help from the Twilight phenomenon: The Guardian reports that new films of Emily’s Wuthering Heights and Charlotte’s Jane Eyre are being cast with younger, hotter stars to appeal to Twihards 
  • You’ve heard of the proposed Harry Potter theme park. How about a theme park dedicated to Gulliver’s Travels
  • Bask in “the soft periwinkle glow of the Alaskan morning,” because the results of Slate‘s “Write like Sarah Palin” contest are in
  • The blogosphere has been buzzing with the best books of the decade lately, so what about the decade’s worst books

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Bookmarks: Coolio cooks, Anne of Green Gables tweets, and more

A few sundry links from across the Web:

  • “Living in a Gourmet’s Paradise?” Rapper Coolio now has his own cookbook, Cookin’ with Coolio
  • A new audio-book version of the Bible is available, featuring Richard Dreyfuss as Moses, Luke Perry as Judas Iscariot, and — who else? — James Caviezel reprising his role as Jesus Christ. The L.A. Times Jacket Copy reports the audio-book is described as a “verbal cinema” complete with a musical score and sound effects
  • You can now be a follower, or “kindred spirit,” of Canada’s favourite redhead. Anne of Green Gables is using Twitter
  • We’re well aware how prevalent bad sex is in fiction … so how about awards for good sex
  • You are officially invited to attend Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry … with a new iPhone Spells app 
  • Sad but true: Finn Reeder, Flu Fighter is a book for middle-school aged children about the ubiquitous H1N1 virus

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Bookmarks: why McCarthy won’t autograph, the definitive titles of the Noughties, and more

  • The Telegraph posted their definitive Books of the Noughties. Nothing very surprising – White Teeth, Atonement, Brick Lane -  Dave Eggers’s memoir comes in fourth, right behind good ol’ Dan Brown, Obama’s memoir, and bien sur, Harry Potter at number one. Sigh.

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Bookmarks: Generic Wizard Nights, a feline Humbert Humbert, and more

Sundry links from around the Web:

  • The Ontario Library Association has announced the nominees for the 2010 Forest of Reading Program. Votes can be cast for your favourite authors at the OLA’s website. Participants have between now and April 23 to read a minimum of 5 of the 10 titles in their chosen category
  • Classic literature meets lolcats with LOLerature. Who knew what we were missing?
  • A U.K. fan who was forbidden to throw a Harry Potter-themed dinner party throws a “Generic Wizard Night” instead
  • Stephen King taps into vampire mania by writing his first comic book, American Vampire. The most terrifying fact, as pointed out by AbeBooks, is that the vampire bears an uncanny resemblance to Kid Rock
  • For people who have too much time on their hands like dressing up their pets as literary characters, The New Yorker has been holding an online Critterati Contest. The contest has closed and the winners will be announced later today, but the gallery is still available for your browsing pleasure. (While there are a plethora of adorable Moby Dicks and Hestor Prynnes, this Quillblogger has money on the feline version of Nabokov’s Humbert Humbert, caught in flagrante delicto with an unwitting Barbie Lolita)
  • The woman who gave us Lestat de Lioncourt is swapping vampires for angels, the National Post reports
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