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J.K. Rowling Blocks Harry Potter E-Book

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Call out the book police: The long-awaited Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, to be published July 16, will be available at bookstores and via e-commerce sites, but not – repeat, not – online as an e-book.

Neil Blair, a lawyer with Harry author J.K. Rowling’s literary agency, tells the Associated Press that the e-book phenomenon “has not been an area that we have sought to license.”

He added: “We monitor the Internet and take appropriate action” should it be discovered that the book is being pirated online.

Aware of her tech-savvy young fan base, Rowling has not permitted any of the her Potter books to be released in electronic form, not even during the peak of the e-book craze a few years ago.

Besides fears of piracy, e-books haven’t caught on because hip hardware has yet to be invented for a reading device.

“I didn’t think then, and I don’t think now, that there is a cool enough or interesting enough hardware to get the kids engaged,” says Barbara Marcus, president of the children’s books division of Rowling’s American publisher, Scholastic, Inc.

“One of the fantasies I had was of kids walking around, without backpacks, and somebody would say, ‘You have to read Of Mice and Men and The Red Badge of Courage. Here are the e-books.’ That fantasy hasn’t happened.”