J.K. Rowling is up to something. What that something is, we won’t find out until next Thursday, June 23rd. But it’s definitely something related to Harry Potter, because Rowling has just unveiled a new website called Pottermore. And from the stylized logo on display there, it looks as though “Pottermore” is the title of whatever it is she’s been working on.
So what could it be?
Visit pottermore.com and you’re presented with a splash page that includes the name and Rowling’s signature, along with a pair of owls. Clicking on the owls will take you to a special YouTube page that’s counting down until the 23rd, when Rowling will make her big announcement via video.
I am positively tingly at the thought of J.K. Rowling publishing something new, no matter what it is, but let’s not forget that Rowling has repeatedly stated that she won’t be writing any more Harry Potter books. Yet a quick WHOIS search reveals that the “pottermore.com” domain name was registered on Rowling’s behalf by her literary agent, the Christopher Little Agency. So whatever this is, it requires Rowling’s publishing interests to be properly represented.
But the clues don’t stop there. The trademark registered for “Pottermore” indicates that Warner Bros. is also involved in this project somehow, as they own the trademark. The trademark states as its reasons for being registered as:
Providing multiple-user access to a global computer information network; providing on-line chat rooms and electronic bulletin boards for transmission of messages among users in the field of general interest; providing on-line communications links which transfer the web site user to other local and global web pages; providing on-line facilities for real-time interaction with other computer users concerning topics of general interest.
Pretty vague stuff if you ask me. Intentionally cloudy language that ultimately means that Pottermore could be pretty much anything. I’m sure WB and Rowling and Christopher Little knew that the trademark would be on public record, and thus they worded their filing with as few specifics as possible.
Since publishing the final book in the Harry Potter saga in 2007, Rowling has said little about what she’s working on next, offering only esoteric hints about other writing projects she intends to pursue. But she’s also been busy building up her Harry Potter empire with things like the Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park attraction at Universal Studios of Orlando.
Speculation on what Pottermore is, is all over the map. The most common guess is that it’s some sort of interactive Harry Potter Internet experience, perhaps a social network themed around Harry Potter’s fictional wizardry. This seems to line up with all of the (admittedly few) known facts. The owl motif used on the teaser site also suggests that communication will play a big part in Pottermore, since owls in the Potter books were used exclusively by wizards to correspond with one another.
One thought that occurs to me is that Rowling is on record as saying more than once that she’d like to do a comprehensive “Harry Potter Encyclopedia” someday, and it’s not a huge cognitive leap to imagine that compendium being cross-published as both a printed volume and a searchable website. Others have suggested that this could be nothing more than a fancy way of announcing that the Potter books are finally being made available as ebooks. Or maybe even a Potter-themed MMO video game.
Rowling has her very own spokesperson, named Rebecca Salt, who told the Associated Press that Pottermore is “not a new book,” but she refuses to say anything else. Popular fansite The Leaky Cauldron was lucky enough to get an advance peak at Pottermore, and afterwards told readers that it’s “one of the most amazing, engaging and breathtaking additions to this fandom imaginable.” TLC added that it’s something worthy of the same level of excitement that a new Potter book would generate.
So what do you think Pottermore is? An encyclopedia? A social network? An MMO? A web store for Potter branded merch? Some wild amalgamation of all of the above?? Or something else that no one has guessed???