Updated Sony will bundle its next generation e-reader with the entire series of Harry Potter stories from November, The Register has learnt.
The bespectacled wizard debuts in digital format in October – the same time as the Sony-sponsored Pottermore "online reading experience" goes live – according to well-placed sources in the vendor's retail channel.
But for richer Potterites who can hang fire for a month, a second bundle will be released including all seven books in the series, a letter from author JK Rowling, subscription to Pottermore and a themed carry case.
Beta testing for Pottermore opened yesterday; in time Potter e-books will be sold via the site (rather than through etailers such as Amazon) but this won't happen until 2012. Until it does, the only way to buy digital-format wizardry will be with a Sony device.
According to the sources, Sony is paying Rowling millions for early electronic rights to Potter, but rather than adding to her fortune, last estimated at £560m, she is handing the proceeds to a charity for children with learning disabilities.
The package is being hailed as the "hero" product – the biggest seller – for Christmas by some in the retail channel.
Sony confirmed that it has another e-reader in the offing but refused to comment on the tie-up with Potter.
"We have not yet released any details about new Sony Readers, including pricing, timing and features. When we do have Sony Reader news, we will share all the details with you," Sony said.
Rowling's representatives declined to confirm any charitable association or other details of the deal. ®
Updated to Add
Ms Rowling's representatives have now (12:30 17 August UK time) been back in touch. They say that in fact Harry Potter e-books will be made available for all platforms simultaneously via the Pottermore website: there will be no period during which it will be available only with the Sony reader, as we had previously understood.