A week ago today, Harry Potter author JK Rowling launched a new website, Pottermore.com, consisting of just a single page featuring a pair of owls and a promise that something was “coming soon”. Since then, a dedicated YouTube channel has been counting down the days, hours, minutes and seconds until an announcement was made.
At 12 noon today, the wait was finally over. Sort of…
As the owls took flight, a video message from Rowling appeared in their place. In it, she outlined her plans for Pottermore, calling it “a thank you to a wonderful, diverse and loyal readership”.
The online environment will allow users to revisit the storylines of the books, enhanced with new characters, places and objects, and promises “sumptuous illustrations” and “interactive moments”.
On entering, users will choose a “magic username” and join the wizard school Hogwarts. There, they’ll be sorted into one of its four houses, be matched with a wand from over 33,000 possible combinations and learn to cast spells and mix potions.
Rowling told fans: “Just as the experience of reading requires that the imaginations of the author and reader work together to create the story, so Pottermore will be built, in part, by you, the reader.
“The digital generation will be able to enjoy a safe, unique online reading experience built around the Harry Potter books. Pottermore will be the place where fans of any age can share, participate in and rediscover the stories.”
Of course, Rowling is more than just a master storyteller, she’s also a savvy businesswoman. Her bestselling books have already been turned into the most successful movie franchise in film history, and Pottermore will incorporate an online shop offering Harry Potter audiobooks, e-books and other merchandise for sale in partnership with Sony.
Rowling said: “[Pottermore] will also be the exclusive place to purchase digital audiobooks and, for the first time, e-books of the Harry Potter series. I’ll be joining in, too, because I will be sharing additional information I’ve been hoarding for years about the world of Harry Potter.”
But Pottermore is not open for business just yet. The site will launch fully in October. Registration begins on 31 July, Harry Potter’s birthday – and the first million people to complete an online challenge will gain early entry.
“A lucky few can enter early to help shape the experience,” said Rowling, before signing off with a suitably cryptic flourish: “Simply follow the owl. Good luck!”