J.K. Rowling Officially Announces Pottermore: So What is it Exactly?
There's An Apparate For That
At 7am this morning, thousands (millions?) of Harry Potter fans worldwide awakened early to await the announcement by J.K. Rowling of her newest project, Pottermore.com. So what is it? According to The Rowling herself, it’s a (free) online reading experience unlike any other.
“It’s the same story, with a few crucial additions,” said Rowling in the video making the official announcement. And yes, it does appear to be another announcement of an announcement, but I have a hard time believing I’ll find all that many Harry Potter fans up in arms about such a thing; if there’s anything I’ve learned over the ten years since I personally discovered the series, it’s that Jo Rowling has the ability to excite fans with the blink of an eye or the wave of a finger. That’s not going to end simply because we’re no longer waiting to find out why exactly it’s significant that Harry has green eyes.
It’s been thirteen years since the publication of the first book in the series, but the fandom that has built itself around Harry, his world and this woman shows little to no sign of leaving the experience behind any time soon. And while she has pledged not to write any further Harry Potter books, the woman at the center of it all is still wholly invested.
You may still be wondering what exactly this thing will be. While the announcement video was a little vague, she did release a few little sound bites that will likely thrill anyone who (like me) accepts anything Rowling says about the series as canon. For those people, the most exciting of the news most likely lies in the fact that Pottermore will include additonal information Rowling’s been “hoarding for years” about the world of Harry Potter. Which does mean what you think it means: new material.
As told by The Guardian, reporting on Rowling’s earlier press conference (emphasis ours):
From Professor McGonagall’s love for a Muggle as a young woman, to how the Dursleys met; from new information about Slytherin, Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff houses, to details about wand wood, the fresh Potter background from the author already stretches to 18,000 words, with more to come.
For those who have devoured these stories with the loving, rabid eyes of a fan, and to whom the series meant a discovery of oneself, nearly nothing could sing more beautifully to the ears than being granted a glimpse into bits of the world in which we so fully immersed ourselves.
Pottermore, according to the press conference, will be an online community crafted by both fan and author, and will include much of the interactive game component that has been rumored over the past week: users will be able to navigate through the chapters of the books, be sorted into houses, choose a wand, and in many ways experience life at Hogwarts. For those of us who spent much of their eleventh year worrying about why they hadn’t gotten their Hogwarts acceptance letter, this (and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Florida) may be the closest we’ll get. For the time being the site will be confined to the world of the first book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s/Philosopher’s Stone, with the rest being added in due course.
I wanted to give something back to the fans that have followed Harry so devotedly over the years, and to bring the stories to a new generation,” Rowling revealed. “I hope fans and those new to Harry will have as much fun helping to shape Pottermore as I have. Just as I have contributed to the website, everyone else will be able to join in by submitting their own comments, drawings and other content in a safe and friendly environment. Pottermore has been designed as a place to share the stories with your friends as you journey through the site.
I’ve heard an unsettling amount of people over the years express their opinion that, if Jo were to write more books, it would simply be a way to milk more money out of the series. To them I say now: She could have charged through the nose for this. Instead, Pottermore is free. “That was really important to me,” said Rowling, “this was about the ‘give-back’.”
Harry’s birthday (July 31st) marks the opening of the site to one million lucky users, while it is officially launched to users everywhere in October.
It all goes to show: the final film may hit theaters in less than a month, the books may have ended years ago, and those of us who discovered the books as children may be well on our way into adulthood, but Harry Potter is not a series that can simply end. Dumbledore said it best in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: “You will find that I will only truly have left this school when none here are loyal to me…Help will always be given at Hogwarts to those who ask for it.”