Russians rush to buy the novels as digital sales are to be canceled on Friday
The entire Harry Potter book series has been removed from commercial digital inventories in Russia, after the copyright holder pulled the license without any explanation. One of Russia’s largest ebook sellers, LitRes, reported on Friday that sales for the series have gone up 48 times the usual rate since the announcement was made on Thursday, as Russians rushed to buy over 5,000 copies for a sum of over 1.7 million rubles.
While online sales are set to last until the end of Friday, April 8, LitRes has stated that anyone who had previously purchased a digital copy of the novels would be able to keep them indefinitely.
However, ebook subscription services, such as MyBook, have warned customers that they will only have until the end of the month to finish reading any Harry Potter novels they may have started, and that the ‘finish reading’ function could be disabled at any time if the copyright owner requests it.
Meanwhile, physical copies of the Harry Potter books appear to be unaffected by this move so far and bookstores are still able to carry and sell them to customers.
The move comes as a number of authors, publishers, and entertainment companies have decided to pull their products from the Russian market in protest of the ongoing military conflict in Ukraine.
Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling had previously condemned Russian President Vladimir Putin after he included her in his speech about the West trying to cancel and ‘erase’ Russia’s rich history and musical and literary culture. Putin said he found it similar to the way Rowling was being treated after she expressed her opinions on gender roles and the transgender movement, which some interpreted as being transphobic.
Since Russia launched its military operation in Ukraine, several Western institutions have taken action against Russian-linked works. Recently, London’s National Gallery officially renamed a 1890s painting by Edgar Degas, changing it from ‘Russian Dancers’ to ‘Ukrainian Dancers’. The Cardiff Philharmonic Orchestra in Wales removed Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s famous 1812 Overture, claiming it was “inappropriate”, while a university in Milan, Italy tried to suspend a course on acclaimed Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky, saying it was trying to avoid tensions by focusing on Ukrainian authors instead. After a public backlash, the decision was reversed.