Launched as a fan community site in 2012, Pottermore has evolved from a self-publishing site for one of the world’s most popular authors into a firm that sells increasing volumes of ebooks and audio books via partnerships with online retailers.
Recognising the pitfalls of a purely go-it-alone, direct-to-fans approach, Pottermore revamped its strategy in 2015 to also sell through Amazon.com, Apple, Amazon’s audio book unit Audible, Barnes & Noble, Google, and Rakuten-owned ebook publisher Kobo.
“If ebooks can work for anyone, they are going to work for Harry Potter,” said Joseph Evans, a technology analyst for media market research firm Enders Analysis.
However, he noted how a push by News Corp-owned publisher HarperCollins to create ebook destination sites for other top authors has failed to take off.
For the fiscal year ended in March 2016, Pottermore’s revenue more than doubled year on year to £15.1m (€17.6m). It narrowed its pretax loss to £4.9m from £6m in fiscal 2015.
The company has been investing in revamping the site, publishing new digital editions of the original seven Harry Potter titles and ebook shorts by Rowling that delve into the stories, characters and settings imagined in the Potter realm.
“The new strategic plan is not only driving increased revenue but is also putting us on the path to profitability for our financial year ending in March 2017,” Pottermore CEO Susan Jurevics said.
Pottermore is dwarfed by the broader Potter franchise of books, video games, films and related products, which is estimated to have generated as much as €14bn in sales over nearly two decades.
Last week, Pottermore.com published Rowling’s screenplay for the feature film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the weekend’s top box office draw, which took in €70.6m for film studio Warner Bros. Pictures in its first three days.
Fantastic Beasts depicts a struggle between North American wizards and non-magical humans in New York in 1926, 70 years before the adventures of Harry Potter, and is the first in a planned five-part film series set to be released into the next decade.
“There is huge interest in the Wizarding world,” said Ms Jurevics in an interview. “This is a phenomenally evergreen publishing property with a long future roadmap.”