There’s no need to put away your Hogwarts robes or lay down your wand, this summer will not be the end of Harry Potter. The brains behind the boy-wizard announced live on YouTube that she plans to create a unique online experience for fans to enjoy. But is Pottermore all it’s cracked up to be?
JK Rowling has delighted fans by announcing Pottermore
Whether you’ve been a keen follower of the boy wizard’s adventures or not – at least they get kids reading – you can’t deny that JK Rowling’s series has become a cultural phenomenon.
The author has now proudly announced that Harry’s avid fans will be able to step into the stories and interact with them on an unprecedented level – for free.
“I wanted to give something back to the fans that have followed Harry so devotedly over the years,” she said.
While Potterphiles have reacted with the teary-eyed joy you’d expect, elsewhere there has been a more mixed response. Some believe it’s a publishing game-changer, while others just see it as a ploy to stay in the headlines.
Pottermore will give users the chance to travel chapter-by-chapter through the tales, as they experience the wonders of Diagon Alley, get quizzed by the Sorting Hat and are given their own key to Gringotts Wizarding Bank.
Along the way they’ll encounter interactive “Moments” from the books, allowing them to absorb additional information, which has been penned by Rowling herself. Impressive.
Pottermore also heralds the first time the seven-part epic will be available in digital form – something that’s been conspicuously absent since the rise of ebooks.
This has led to cynics claiming the new site is just a glorified ebook store with plenty of bells and whistles to distract consumers. While this is definitely too harsh, it does seem like there’s room for improvement before Pottermore can become the real innovator it wants to be.
Completely integrating the ebook and interactive elements into a tablet app should be the next logical step for Pottermore, if it strives to change the face of digital publishing.
The chance to unlock the wealth of new content at opportune moments while reading the full book is genuinely an incredibly exciting prospect.
Interactive ebook apps have already been used to great effect by Oliver Jeffers’ Heart and the Bottle and Alice, which is an update of the classic Lewis Carroll tale.
But if TH_NK, the digital agency working on the project, can match the visceral pleasure of those apps, then the diversity and depth of Harry’s world could take it to a whole new level.
Harnessing fan power
Previously, fansites like MuggleNet and The Leaky Cauldron have been the place to go for fans to fully immerse themselves in the world of the bespectacled wizard, but now that could all change.
Pottermore could effectively become a one-stop shop for those who want to buy a digital version, keep in touch with Potter news, communicate with like-minded individuals and enjoy a plethora of mini-games.
It could also turn into an invaluable tool for Rowling to gauge opinion among Harry’s followers and make future announcements.
This is where the new venture really could push the boundaries and make other large publishers re-think their ebook strategies.
Taking the lead
One area that could be paying particular attention to Rowling’s efforts is the ailing comic book industry.
Superhero publishers DC and Marvel have been locked in ongoing battles against convoluted continuities for years. This could be a great way for them to make digital comics more accessible to new readers by offering simplified interactive guides or games to explain the decades-old character histories.
Other long-running, cross-media franchises such as Doctor Who, Star Wars and Star Trek could also follow a similar pattern to keep fans of all ages in touch with where the franchise is, where it’s been and where it’s headed.
From what’s been released so far it’s hard to judge the full merits of Pottermore, but it certainly sounds promising and it should be well worth checking out.
Along with Potterphiles we’re betting one group that will be hoping the website proves to be an enthralling experience will be staff at Kings Cross station – they must be getting tired of hyperactive kids running at the wall between platforms nine and 10 by now…
What do you think about the Pottermore possibilities? Comment below or tweet @dixonsintheknow
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