Dealmakers Impact Report 2011: Lawyers

British lawyer and agent Neil Blair has acted as J.K. Rowling’s key dealmaker since 2001, when he left his job as Warner Bros.’ head of business affairs in Europe to join the Christopher Little Literary Agency.

This summer, he ankled to launch his own company, taking Rowling with him. The catalyst for the split was Rowling’s revolutionary move, masterminded by Blair, to become her own digital publisher by creating the Pottermore website.

Key Deal: Pottermore will enable Rowling to sell Harry Potter e-books without having to share the wealth with a publisher.

“She has turned the publishing industry upside down,” says one source close to the deal. “If you are a John Grisham or a Stephenie Meyer, why work for a 20% royalty when you can sell direct to the public and just pay a 20% fee to Amazon?”

The website, built by design agency Th_nk with tech support from Sony, creates a social networking universe around the books and Rowling’s vast archive of background material.

Legal advice comes from Olswang, Michael Simkins and Laurence Kaye Solicitors. A million users signed up for the Beta testing in July, with the site opening to the public this fall.

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