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June 23, 2011

Pottermore: J.K. Rowling announces ‘online experience’ for Harry Potter fans

Posted in: Books,Movies

J.K. Rowling announced Pottermore will be an "online experience" for "Harry Potter" fans.

Magically minded muggles will be able to experience the “Harry Potter” wizarding world through a new “online reading experience” called “Pottermore,” author J.K. Rowling said Thursday.

The Pottermore website will allow users to journey through the story lines of the books, starting with “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” in October, according to a statement from Rowling’s media team.

“It’s the same story with a few crucial additions, the most important of which is you,” Rowling said in her YouTube announcement. “Just as the experience of reading requires that the imaginations of the author and the 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.”

Rowling’s announcement, which came on Pottermore partner Sony’s website and at a news conference in London as well as on YouTube, came after weeks of speculation about Pottermore, with guesses ranging from a massively multi-player online role-playing game (like World of Warcraft) to a treasure hunt to a sequel.

Though no sequel is on the way, Rowling said the seven “Harry Potter” books would be available for the first time as e-books — in five languages and more on the way — and as audiobooks in an online store on the Pottermore website.

The website will also boast new content that Rowling said she has been “hoarding for years” about the Harry Potter universe.

"Harry Potter" film stars Rupert Grint, Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson, with J.K. Rowling at the first "Harry Potter" film (William Conran / Associated Press)

“The storyline will be brought to life with sumptuous newly-commissioned illustrations and interactive ‘Moments’ through which you can navigate,” the media statement said. “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 the news conference at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, Rowling also revealed that the website will bring to life the Sorting Hat, which places new users into their Hogwarts houses (Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw or Slytherin) according to their characteristics, and Ollivanders Wand Shop, which helps users find the right wand from more than 33,000 possible combinations.

Pottermore will open to all users in October, but fans can register on July 31 — Harry Potter’s birthday — and compete in an online challenge to be in the first million people who will gain early entry into the website. Registration follows the release of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2,” the final installment in the eight-part movie franchise, which hits theaters July 15.

Harry, Hermione and Ron in "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2." (Warner Bros. Pictures)

“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 digital generation,” Rowling said in the statement. “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.”

– Noelene Clark

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