Pottermore Promises to Bring the World of Harry Potter to Life

24 Apr

J. K. Rowling
Image from Pottermore Press Kit

I’m not a Potter-head. Let’s start things off by making that very clear. I do enjoy watching the films from time to time, lately in knitted envy more than anything else. I’ve read up to halfway through book five, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. My friends and I did make up paper magic wands for when we saw the last film, but that’s about the maximum geekery I’ve indulged in with Harry Potter.

I do appreciate, though, the vast numbers of children and young adults who enjoy reading the books. These are children who may not have found any books before that they had liked and may have given up on reading until receiving a copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, or as you may know it, the sorcerer’s stone. I’m a somewhat avid but extremely picky reader myself. I know how hard it is to find something you like.

The Harry Potter Series has become near and dear to readers’ hearts the world over. When the films came out, the buzz exploded. I didn’t think the books could get any bigger at that point, but they certainly did. I didn’t read them, though. In fact, I didn’t start reading them until fall 2011.

I have to admit, I was a bit intrigued last year when Pottermore, the online world of Harry Potter, was announced. I remember being mildly irritated that I couldn’t just get them all on my Nook. Those are big books, after all! I was excited to see that the books would be available October 2011 and this thing called Pottermore would be available early 2012.

Then October came and went. November through February swiftly followed. The ebooks didn’t turn up, though I can’t recall if the Pottermore shop didn’t actually go live then. I didn’t wait around. I bought all of the books as physical copies and vowed I would just read them that way.

Pottermore promised a lot, and still does. You can read the whole thing here, but here’s a snippet to give you an idea what the press release says:

“For this groundbreaking collaborative project, J.K. Rowling has written extensive new material about the characters, places and objects in the much-loved stories, which will inform, inspire and entertain readers as they journey through the storylines of the books. Pottermore will later incorporate an online shop where people can purchase exclusively the long-awaited Harry Potter eBooks, in partnership with J.K. Rowling’s publishers worldwide, and is ultimately intended to become an online reading experience, extending the relevance of Harry Potter to new generations of readers, while still appealing to existing fans. As the Pottermore Shop develops, it is intended that it should include further products designed specifically for Harry Potter fans, offering a potential outlet for Sony products and services related to Pottermore.  In keeping with Harry Potter’s international appeal, the site will launch in English, French, Italian, German and Spanish, with more languages to follow.

In the new website, the storyline will be brought to life with sumptuous newly-commissioned illustrations and interactive ‘Moments’ through which you can navigate, starting with the first book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s (Sorcerer’s) Stone. On entering, you choose a magic username and begin your experience. As you move through the chapters, you can read and share exclusive writing from J.K. Rowling, and, just as Harry joins Hogwarts, so can you. You visit Diagon Alley, get sorted into a house, cast spells and mix potions to help your house compete for the House Cup.

At a press conference at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, Rowling revealed some key features of the website. In an announcement which will thrill fans, she described how she has brought to life both the Sorting Hat and Ollivanders experiences from her books for the first time on Pottermore, by revealing the questions asked by the Sorting Hat – which places newcomers into their Hogwarts houses according to their characteristics – and the magic behind the Wand Chooser – which finds the right wand for each user from over 33,000 possible combinations. She also revealed glimpses of the new information she has provided on some of the best-loved characters.”

In late March, the ebooks finally were available! I’m not about to buy them at this point, though, considering how much money I spent on the physical books (and I haven’t even finished reading those). I do find myself, though, mildly interested in this thing called Pottermore. When I opened the website the other day, I was finally able to sign up.

I was greeted in the Pottermore Insider blog with an optimisitic, cheerful message:

“After you’ve signed up, you’ll get sorted into one of the four Hogwarts houses, have a wand choose you, and discover exclusive new writing from J.K. Rowling.

We’ll be adding lots of exciting new features over the coming weeks and months, so make sure you return regularly to explore and discover all the changes as Pottermore grows.”

I would like to say, I didn’t get to pick my username. Well, that’s not entirely true. I had options with random numbers behind them like WildBludger, CloakPixie, MarauderHex, and ProphecyCauldron. Mine is BronzeNight (random numbers). I completely appreciate the desire to protect children’s identities, but another option was fairy. I’d like to explore this website without having to be a fairy or bronze night, whatever that means.

I also don’t actually have access to the site yet. We hopefully will see soon what the website is like. I don’t know what to expect, but I’ll update you once I’m officially registered.

– Ana

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