Complete Harry Potter $3.99 on Ebay? C’mon.

Looking for that perfect something to celebrate Harry’s and Ms. Rowling’s shared birthday today? Buy the seven book Harry Potter series on CD as a pdf file for next to nothing.

I understand that versions of this sort of thing have been available and passed around on the internet for years. I was sent, for instance, a searchable MS Word file of Deathly Hallows less than a week after the book was published in 2007 (having bought four copies of the book, I wouldn’t have blushed if I had ever used the file, but I haven’t). In the spirit of full disclosure, I have as of this morning a complete set of pdf files for the books — for which files I paid nothing to anyone, “anyone” including, of course, the copyright holders.

But this eBay merchant (along with quite a few others) is selling the 4,100 page series and making a profit via the repackaging and ‘shipping and handling’ charges. Am I right in assuming this is only happening because eBay and Warner Brothers and Bloomsbury/Scholastic are unaware of it happening? Your thoughts?

And happy birthday, Ms. Rowling, wherever you ever!


  1. revgeorge says

    Frankly, this is how I bought the four Twilight books.

    And, no, technically it’s not legal. And Warner Brothers & Bloomsbury/Scholastic would probably be grumpy if they found out.

    Ironically, though, JKR doesn’t want ebook editions of her books because she’s afraid they’ll be pirated!!

    Jo Rowling is bright & all but I don’t think she understands technology very well. If she didn’t realize that all of her books were scanned onto a computer as soon as they came out & then made available on various file sharing programs, then …

    All Bloomsbury/Scholastic & Rowling are doing by not putting out ebook editions is taking away legitimate sales. My wife would probably read the books more than once if she could buy ebooks. I would also buy an ebook set if one were available. As it is, I might wander over to eBay… ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. revgeorge says

    Well, you’re right, it is plain theft. But as with all things, there’s a market for it. I should probably buy a legit copy of Twilight just so I don’t have Stephenie Meyers leap out of a dark alley someday & try to pry ten bucks out of my wallet.

    I sent a note to one of the sellers on eBay asking what they meant when they said they had full resale rights & copyright permission since there was no legitimate version of HP ebooks available or planned at the moment. We’ll see what kind of answer they give. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Wow — the complete Twilight Saga for less than 50 cents delivered to your computer!

    And the big players took Steve Vander Ark to court for copyright violation? No matter what you think of that trial — and, no, we aren’t discussing that here so don’t post on it — this sort of copy-and-paste for re-sale has to be considered just plain theft.

    Color me gob-smacked.

  4. “Live free or Die. Death is not the worst of evils.”

    Besides being Harry’s B-day, today is also the bicentennial of General Gates saying these words at a reunion for veterans of the Battle of Bennington.

    Could there be a more succinct summary of Harry’s choice to head into the forest than “Death is not the worst of evils”? It’s almost a direct quotation from Dumbledore to the Dark Lord, right?

  5. I doubt the seller will respond. My bet is that eBay has a policy somewhere in its terms of usage (as accessible no doubt as the Ark of the Covenant is in the Gov’t Warehouse where Indiana Jones left it) saying just how verboten this e-piracy is and how they have zero tolerance for such things.

    But without full time monitors to police these rules, it slips in under the flood of eBay’s ten gazillion listings? Or something like that. The Potter re-packager has sold almost 30 of these things (maybe a few more because of my posting a link to his page) and probably will indefinitely. Who is out there to stop him or her?

  6. revgeorge says

    Arabella, I thought your first comment went through but I don’t see it now; just your second one. Your sentiments are right, of course, but they’re also not the whole story.

    Since Bloomsbury/Scholastic don’t make ebook versions of HP, I think it would be permissible for someone to take the books they legally bought & scan them & turn them into ebooks for their own use. Selling them on eBay to others is another matter, of course.

    And if Bloomsbury/Scholastic & JKR ever got off their Luddite kick of ignoring proven technologies like ebooks & put out ebook versions of HP, it would be best to buy those books, both to legally own them & also because they’d be better quality than something you just scanned into your computer.

    Just like I bought the legal ebooks of The Hobbit & Lord of the Rings when they became available a few months ago even though I had home scanned ones.

    By the by, I do now have a legit copy of Twilight. Fortunately my wife got it for free for being a Club member of Fictionwise. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  7. Arabella Figg says

    Guess my comment didn’t go through the first time. I’m still learning this iPod.

    Just because there’s a “pirate’s market,” should we be customers there? What about the Golden Rule? Ethics? Creatives deserve just compensation for their labor, just as much as any other laborer. We may not personally be able to prevent such practices, but we can do our part by not enabling them.

  8. revgeorge says

    No problem, Arabella. It is a sensitive subject. I think that buying things from those who create them is the ethical, moral thing to do too. It’s just not all “piracy” is driven by a desire to steal. In fact, a good, legal definition of piracy needs to be hashed out, because there are some groups, like the RIAA, who would think, & some do think, that copying things you’ve bought & using them for your own personal use is piracy as well! So, it’s all an ongoing battle.

  9. Arabella Figg says

    revgeorge, my first comments were a little on the harsh and high-horse side, so I resubmitted. It’s hard to process your thinking on these little gadgets.

    Actually, I have no problem regarding scanning for personal use what one has already bought. I burn CDs I’ve bought to keep and play in the car, preserving the originals in a cool place. And I agree with your second paragraph.

    As a creative, with creative friends, I’m afraid the pirating thing is a sensitive subject with me.

  10. I bought it. When an official ebook version is released, I’ll buy it. I wanted a version that can be searched electronically.

    The scans are well done, btw.

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