Did you by chance try to buy any eBooks from Amazon’s US Kindle store on Tuesday 27 March? If you did you were probably amazed to find that everything you clicked on said: “This title is not currently available in the US”.
Wondered what was wrong? Well, here’s the reason.
Ever since her massive success as creator of Harry Potter, J K Rowling has been very protective about her best selling series. Not wanting to risk any of her titles being copy/pasted and made available illegally, she has never allowed eBook editions to be published. That is until 27 March, when they went on sale at Amazon for the first time. Coincidentally, that was the same day Amazon had problems with its site.
Now, Amazon is being very tight-lipped about the incident, but it seems that the crash of their server and the release of the Harry Potter eBooks is very much related.
Harry Potter eBooks come from Pottermore, a third-party site, rather than from Amazon direct. In order to buy a book purchasers must click on the “Buy at Pottermore” link on the Amazon website and create an account at the Pottermore shop before their transactions can be processed. They can then link the books to their Amazon account and be allowed the same “Buy Once, Read Everywhere” features that all other Kindle books enjoy. Once linked the eBook is sent to the Kindle or Kindle apps registered to the same Amazon account.
Yes... as they say... it’s complicated!
Anyhow, since Amazon’s server went down within an hour of Harry Potter eBooks being released, it looks very likely that they were responsible. Clearly Amazon didn’t anticipate what a surge of potential buyers clicking through its site to the Pottermore shop would do, and unable to handle so many redirects performed simultaneously, the server crashed.
The result? For Amazon and its authors selling thousands of books a day it must have been, to say the least, upsetting. But for J K Rowling it’s just one more display of the power of Harry Potter.
J M Leitch is author of The Zul Enigma, a futuristic thriller looking back at a cataclysmic event that occurred on 21 December 2012, end of the Mayan calendar.