(Note: NO SPOILERS in this post!)
I'm a latecomer to this whole Harry Potter thing, but am no less enthusiastic about the recent release of the final volume. Last Fall, I got into the series by buying The Complete Harry Potter (also: currently-nonfunctional iTunes link), a then-$249 collection which included the first six audiobooks, expertly narrated by Jim Dale. Yes, this is crazy expensive for any digital purchase. But according to iTunes, this is 3.9 days of narration, comprising 1.34 GB of data. That's a heck of a lot of audio! It took me months to get through the first six books via iPod. And for what it's worth, Dale's performance is the best I've heard for an audiobook.
To seal the deal for iPod owners like me, iTunes is the only digital option for Harry Potter -- Audible and competitors don't carry the Harry Potter series at all, presumably due to the high royalties (and thus high sticker prices on the audiobooks) that are involved in this hot commodity. Yes, you could buy the CD audiobooks and import them if you had a lot of time on your hands, but it could take a while -- the unabridged series should just about fit on 76 CDs. (Note: Audiobook Builder helps.)
So when the final Harry Potter book was released, I wondered: will it show up on iTunes at one minute past midnight, just like the physical books? Well, the short answer was: no. Leading up to the book's release, fans speculated about when the audiobook would hit iTunes. They (and I, ever-refreshing in iTunes) took note when The Complete Harry Potter was pulled from iTunes on Saturday, though the books were still available (and topping the audiobook charts) individually. Would the new audiobook come Sunday? No. Monday? Um, not so much.
As it stands now, audiobook fans can pick up the 17-disc CD set for nearly $50 on Amazon. There is no word from Apple on when the audiobook will hit iTunes, but you can join in the speculation if you've got an idea. As for me? I bought the "old fashioned" book -- yes, made out of ANALOG PAPER -- and starting churning through it on Sunday. And as I read, all I hear is Jim Dale's voice narrating in my head! (Though I should note that seeing the spelling of terms like "accio" and "veritaserum" for the first time is a bit of a shock.)
Oh, and please no spoilers in the comments!