Harry Potter fans: dust off those old volumes, because you may just want to re-read the series again starting this October. The idea behind Pottermore, as revealed today by J.K. Rowling herself, is to bring Harry Potter into the digital age. But putting a simple label on just what the Pottermore.com site is, won’t be easy.
It’s part reading club, part social network, part online game, part never-before-seen Potter content straight from Rowling, and part digital bookstore. We’ve got pictures!
Pottermore, which formally launches this October, is designed as a digital destination for Harry Potter fans, with elements of social networking built in so that fans can interact and share their Potter-inspired creations with one another. There are also some video game-type elements, dubbed “Moments,” which bring you inside Harry’s world from the books. For example, a character trait test will sort you into one of the four Hogwarts “houses” when you sign up for (free) membership, and then you’ll be assigned just the right wand, from more than 33,000 possible wand trait combinations. Other “Moments” include visiting Diagon Alley, casting spells, mixing potions, and competing for the House Cup.
And then there’s the exclusive content, straight from Rowling. Reportedly, she’s written 18,000 new words (with loads more on the way) about Harry’s world and characters, which will be available for free for all fans, on the website. This content is based on background information and content that she’s been holding onto for years (the extensive backstory and world building she undertook for the Harry Potter saga is virtually unmatched).
Starting in October, fans will be encouraged to read through the books (or read them again, if it’s not your first time) alongside other Potter fans via this new website. The experience will be a social one, augmented with illustrations, the interactive Moments like the Sorting Hat, and Rowling’s extra content. She cited examples as things like background on the four houses, the significance of different wand woods, and backstory for Professor McGonagall. It seems to be stuff that’s not essential to Harry’s storyline, but details that the most scholarly fans will devour.
Finally, Pottermore will be the exclusive online retailer for purchasing all seven Harry Potter novels in their long-awaited ebook form. It will also be the only place you can buy digital download versions of the audio books. Other Potter branded products will be added to the Pottermore store over time.
If you’re eager to jump in, the Pottermore site is taking email sign ups so you can be notified as soon as the site goes live (at the time of this article, email sign ups have been temporarily suspended due to “overwhelming demand”). The first one million fans to successfully complete a mystery challenge on July 31st (Harry’s birthday) will be invited to take part in the Pottermore experience early, in a sort of “beta” testing period.
So after all of the hype and speculation, what do you think? Is Pottermore thrilling, or are you bummed that this wasn’t a new book announcement? I kind of like the looks of it, and will definitely be checking it out. But nothing could even come close to the excitement that would be generated from Rowling announcing a new book — even a non-Potter one.