In a historic moment in eBook publishing, the Harry Potter series was released on Thursday in the iBooks Store in a special "enhanced edition." This is the first time that one of the most iconic book series of all time has been available for download from a major eBook retailer, a huge win for Apple.
“I’m thrilled to see the Harry Potter books so beautifully realized on iBooks for the digital world; the artwork and animations in these enhanced editions bring the stories alive in a delightful new way,” said J.K. Rowling.
The enhanced versions feature illustrations, animations and artwork, with annotations by Rowling scattered throughout the novels. The books will cost $9.99 each in the U.S. and will also be available from Thursday in 31 other countries. French, German and Spanish versions will be available from Nov. 9.
“J.K. Rowling’s legendary series is perfect for enjoying on your iPad or iPhone and we’re thrilled to offer them exclusively on the iBooks Store,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook. The books had previously been available in non-enhanced eBook form exclusively from Pottermore, a website founded by Rowling that aims to extend the Harry Potter universe.
Apple has had a rocky history with the eBook industry. In July last year, the company agreed to a $450 million settlement over eBook pricing policy. The suit alleged that Apple met with publishers to fix price points that could compete with Amazon's discount offerings. The company admitted no guilt.
iBooks was announced at the same event as the iPad in January 2010. New iPad buyers had to download the app from the App Store to use the service. On the Mac, iBooks became a standard application with the launch of OS X Mavericks in October 2013. In October of last year, Apple brought its mobile devices in line with the release of iOS 8, which bundled iBooks in with every install. iBooks director Keith Moerer stated in January that iBooks draws one million new customers every week.