Getting the British Harry Potter eBooks and Audiobooks

by Michael Alderete on 5/8/2012 · 14 comments

With the launch of the store at Pottermore.com, it’s now possible to get digital versions of all seven Harry Potter novels.

Pottermore Shop

I own all of the audiobooks twice over, and several of the printed books, but the eBooks represent something new: the chance to read the British version of the novels. Alas, due to insanely complicated—and stupid—international publication rights and restrictions, and my credit card’s USA billing address, the Pottermore.com store did not want to allow me to buy the UK version of the books.

Here’s how I bought them anyway. (You can do the same for the audiobooks, too.)

The basic trick is that I bought a gift for a “friend” who lives in the UK. Buying a gift allows (or in theory requires) you to purchase the edition appropriate for the gift recipient, rather than restricting you to the edition you are allowed to buy. And since your “friend” is redeeming a gift credit, they don’t need to enter a billing address that gets verified (or not) by a credit card transaction.

The only “tricky” part is that you need to have two email addresses, one for you (the buyer) and one for your “friend” (the gift recipient). Many people have a home and a work email, but as long as you have one, it’s not hard to get a second on one of the different webmail services (Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, etc.).

Harry Potter Collection eBooks, English (GB) The full walk-through of the process is pretty damn tedious, you have to create Pottermore.com accounts for both you and your “friend”, but in the end I turned my $62 American dollars into all seven British edition eBooks, and they work great on my iPad (and well enough on my iPhone). I’m very much looking forward to re-reading the books again, with the Philosopher’s Stone and “colours” and “chips” (fries) and “biscuits” (cookies) and “snogging” (PDA) and all the rest of the wonderful English language in which the books were originally written.

Harry Potter Collection eBooks, English (GB) If you’ve wanted to listen to the magnificent Stephen Fry narrated versions of the books, but balked at the £240 price plus international shipping charges from Amazon.com UK, this is your opportunity to save quite a bit of money. To say nothing of instant gratification!

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

JamesT October 3, 2012 at 1:05 pm

You’re a genius! Got my UK edition Harry Potter books using your method and it worked like a charm! Thanks for ousting this!

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valerie December 2, 2012 at 3:24 pm

Yes!!! Thanks sooooo much. I just gifted myself the UK set, and I’m thrilled. It worked just like you outlined, but I actually didn’t have to make a second account as the gift receiver (did use a second email). I’m so glad I found your comments. I was so close to settling, as I’ve been wanting the electronic editions for so long. Awesome!

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Coco December 18, 2012 at 12:37 pm

Do you know where I can find the UK Chapter and sub chapter names (tracks) for the UK audio books? There are two different sets….one with text from story as chapter names and one with numbers and letters, ex: 10A, 10B,….

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Alderete December 18, 2012 at 11:07 pm

@Coco: I’m not sure I understand what you mean. Do you just want the names of the chapters, the text used for the chapter headings in the books? Or are you looking for the tracks themselves? You can purchase the audiobooks from Pottermore easily enough, as described in this post. The plain text of the chapter titles, I’m sure those are available via google, and maybe even just by visiting Amazon.com and looking up each book…

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Keith Bowden February 14, 2013 at 8:21 am

I found a nice deluxe cloth-bound hardcover set of the first 4 Potter books at an Amazon zShop back when Goblet of Fire was the newest edition. I wanted a UK copy of the first book as the US edition has the title (and name of the artifact) wrong. Imagine my surprise fo find further text alterations in the Scholastic editions! So I continued to preorder my copies directly from Amazon.UK as they came out (which allowed my entire set to match!), and saved enough on the first four that the added expense balanced out nicely.

I don’t think the later books have changes (and the most radical are probably in the first book), but otherwise I highly recommend getting the “real” editions, hard copy or digital!

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Corinne January 24, 2014 at 7:47 am

I’ve wanted to get the Harry Potter UK audio book set for years. I want to buy the set from Pottermore (since it’s way cheaper than the physical set), but will it actually play/work if I buy the UK set in the US? I’ve heard there could be restrictions that would stop them from playing. I just don’t want to waste $300 on them if they aren’t going to work. Thanks!

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Michael Alderete January 25, 2014 at 1:20 pm

@Corinne: You shouldn’t have any problems with audiobooks purchased from the Pottermore.com site. The audiobooks are delivered in MP3 format, which doesn’t support DRM of any kind. No restrictions. (No technical restrictions. Don’t steal or share audiobooks. It is against the law, and the penalties are far greater than you might expect.)

More details in the Pottermore FAQs. For example:

How will I listen to my Harry Potter digital audio book?

You can listen to digital audio books from Pottermore on any device that is compatible with MP3 audio format, including all leading tablets, smartphones and MP3 players, including:

  • Apple (iPad, iPhone and iPod)
  • Android
  • Blackberry
  • Creative
  • SanDisk

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Corinne February 1, 2014 at 9:04 am

Thank you! Very helpful info!

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Heather July 6, 2014 at 7:27 pm

Okay, so for anyone who was wondering about the audiobooks they do in fact work. And you don’t even have to create an account for your friend. I accidentally had my old account signed in when I opened the gift, and it added all the gift books to my regular account, the Canadian one, but it still added them in the UK version.

Plus, for the UK ebook’s you don’t even need a fake account. Those ones they will sell to you even if you aren’t from the UK. I bought those ones months ago from my Canadian account.

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Michael Alderete July 7, 2014 at 2:09 pm

@Heather: Glad it worked for you! The rules and contracts governing sales rights for books, ebooks, and audiobooks are extremely complicated, and vary from country to country. Given Canada’s ties to the British Crown, it’s not surprising that the purchasing privileges of a Canadian account are better than a U.S.-based account when it comes to the UK-based Pottermore. (Yet another reason to envy Canadians!) But I’m not sure if that extends to other countries generally.

Best rule of thumb is, give the “honest” route a try, and if it works, great. If it doesn’t, giving yourself a gift is not being dishonest, it’s simply working around antiquated rules that haven’t caught up with the Internet.

It always astonishes me that there are “for profit” enterprises in this world who won’t let me give them my money in return for their goods and services…

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Ami Johnson July 22, 2014 at 9:43 pm

Hi. I just bought the audiobooks as suggested, however I am having a problem, not sure why. I was able to download to my laptop, but I am unable to open it on any other device. I put it in my google drive from my computer and my phone, my kindle fire, and my iPad, none of them are able to play or download the file. I watched the YouTube help video and it seems like you are able to choose which device you want it on from a drop down menu at the point of purchase, but I have not seen that menu, from any of my devices. So the good news is that I have it and it’s on my laptop. Bad news, I can’t listen to it. Well, I guess I could if I listened to books from my laptop…

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Michael Alderete July 22, 2014 at 11:03 pm

@Ami: I’m not sure what to make of your problem. Without looking at your setup, it’s hard to guess how to help, but here’s a few things to look at or try.

First, what format are the audiobooks in? What’s the file extension on the downloaded file(s)? (The part in the file name after the last period, “.”.) If it’s .mp3, you should be able to play it on anything. But I’m not sure what format Pottermore offers the audiobooks in (I bought the CDs before Pottermore was available.)

Second, what are you playing the books with on your laptop?

Third, what kind of phone do you have? Are you sure that copying the files to your phone using Google Drive is the best way to go? Maybe you could try iTunes, or some other transfer tool. What app are you using to play the audiobooks on your phone? Maybe try a different one?

Fourth, for your iPad, how about transferring the file using iTunes, and then using the Audible app to try to play it back? Or the built-in Music app, that should work too, though you may have to navigate to the Audiobooks source list via the “…” More button.

HTH!

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Ami Johnson July 23, 2014 at 10:08 am

The files are mp3. When I attempted to download the files on my tablet I get an error, so I assumed it was because the files come in zip format, so I put them on my laptop (PC). I moved them to google drive because usually my device will choose the most appropriate app for the type of file, or give me a choice between multiple apps. This time I got the message that I did not have ANY app that could play the files, which is strange as I have almost every app through which they said it could be played, kindle, iTunes, iBooks, etc. the only thing I can guess is that it’s due to it being from the UK, which doesn’t make sense as it’s on my laptop ok, or that it has something to Di with PC to Apple transfer, although I’ve never experienced this before. I admit I have not tried to transfer directly to iTunes so I will try this next, but in the past I could put it in iTunes from Google drive. I will let you know, and thanks for the help.

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Sian July 27, 2014 at 12:42 am

I bought the ebooks some time ago and used up my available devices. I now have a new iPad, does anyone know if it is possible to transfer the ebooks from my old iPad to my new one?

Thanks in advance!

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