Thursday, June 23, 2011


You may have heard the rumors, or you may have simply thought it was another lie of the internet, or perhaps you haven't heard of it at all. If not, then prepare yourself for another Harry Potter count down, but this time it's online.

The new website has been the center of much speculation by fans and media journalists alike - what was the mysterious Pottermore site about? JK Rowling had left hints over the internet, starting with seemingly random coordinates left on forums on sites like the Leaky Cauldron and MuggleNet, hinting at her fans that there was something on the way. The coordinates, when entered into a site called Secret Street View (not unlike Google Maps), would lead the hunters to certain locations where a photoshopped letter would appear, and when all ten letters were found and unscrambled they read 'Pottermore'.

Other hints included owls, all over the place. The owl on the Pottermore site would lead the clicker to a Youtube account, which had no videos but simply said 'the owls are gathering... find out why soon' and featured a countdown to today, June 23rd.

And today, the site was unveiled and a video uploaded on the Youtube account, officially announcing the site would be underway later on this year (October, to be exact).

There were speculations about what the site would be about - Linda Holmes from said it would be an encyclopedia for the Harry Potter universe. Or it could be a social network for Potter fans - "the idea of a PotterBook or HarrySpace does make some sense," said Leslie Gornstein at E! Online. Many others believed it was simply an online Harry Potter ebook shop, and that Rowling was adapting her novels to the digital age to reach to a wider audience.

Well... actually, it's all three.

The site is a place to buy e-books, share stories, and from the look of the screenshots, something not unlike an RPG - but judging by the millions of people who have already visited the Pottermore site, it will be a massive operation.

The article on stated: Pottermore, which Rowling created in partnership with Sony, will include an interactive reading experience of the Harry Potter books. Fans will also be able to buy audio books and, for the first time, Harry Potter novels as ebooks.

The site goes live in October, but some users will be able to enter early. Additional details about that will be revealed on the site on July 31, but Rowling dropped a clue for those aching to enter the site early: “Follow the Owl.”

News site CTV Ottowa also said: Rowling also has written 18,000 words of new Potter material for the site, which promises to immerse users in her world of wizards, combining elements of computer games, social networking and an online store. She says the site includes "information I have been hoarding for years" about the books' characters and settings.

The project unveiled in London lets Potter fans delve into the world of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Sections let users shop for wands in Diagon Alley, travel to Hogwarts from the imaginary Platform 9 3/4 at London's King's Cross train station and be sorted into Hogwarts school houses by the perceptive Sorting Hat.

Along the way are wand fights, games and new information about characters beloved around the world, including Harry's reviled relatives, the Dursleys.

The site goes live July 31, when 1 million registered users will be chosen through an online competition to help flesh out the Pottermore world. It will be open to all users from October, in languages including English, French, German and Spanish.

And some juicy extracts from the official press release:
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 t 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.

So I did my own investigating, and I signed up to the mailing list on the new home page of the Pottermore website. By signing up, they will send an email to you in October when the site opens. But a special sneak preview is available for one million visitors to the site on July 31st, who have registered and win a chance to flesh out the site. A million might seem like a lot, but there have been over a million people who have already visited the Pottermore site, many waking up at ridiculous hours of the morning to watch the 90-second video release from JK Rowling, and there are still more arriving every minute. So many have signed up for the mailing list that the server has crashed more than a few times.

This is one of the biggest and most exciting events in the Harry Potter world - JK Rowling had left us all guessing at what she was going to do next, once the movies had finished and there were no more books to write.

Turns out, there is always more to write.

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