I had mentioned JK Rowling’s Pottermore site in a past blog post titled “The Hunger Games from a Social Standpoint” for its failure to launch on time back in October 2011. Well, Potter fans, fear no more: JK Rowling’s free site has officially launched for all fans of the series! It includes additional writing and insight from the author that will add to the magical experience of the books, in addition to digital games, magical missions, etc. Users actually get assigned a Hogwarts house and a wand, making this digital initiative all the more interactive and personal.
I was granted access to Pottermore a few minutes ago, and at first glance I will say the graphics look very nice, and it’s great to see the inside of this magical world through JK Rowling’s eyes, rather than solely the directors and producers of the Potter movies. You will definitely need a good internet connection to load the site. Just a little thing– I would have liked the cursor button to morph into something more on clickable things, as it isn’t exactly obvious which items throughout the story are supposed to be clicked and which aren’t. One of the kinks that I noticed within the Beta version a few months ago is that I often found myself “trapped” within the site, unable to get out of certain screens without utilizing my browser’s “Back” button– in other words, a web-designer’s nightmare. Pottermore seems to have figured that kink out now. Also, this is definitely more of an educational tool than it is a game, which I guess makes sense as the Harry Potter sensation has included countless video games and even tablet apps (Lego Harry Potter Years 1-4, anyone?).
Rowling has sprinkled little tips and thoughts throughout each chapter. After every “Tip,” users may leave comments and even drawings, allowing a great opportunity for both conversation and personal interpretation. The theme of “Magic” is, in its essence, a very subjective experience, and I think it’s great that readers will have a more moderated place to share these perspectives. You can also use the comment boards for questions you may have about elements in the chapter. When I was younger, I remember searching blog forums on MuggleNet for any posts that addressed my questions. Now kids can pose hypotheticals right there on the Pottermore, and bounce their ideas off one another. You can even “Like” the comments people make, though it does not link up to your Facebook page: it is a strictly ‘Pottermore-only-Like’. From what I can gather, Sony has definitely done a good job in keeping Pottermore separate from social media sites like Facebook and Twitter– I can’t even seem to find the respective social site icons once you enter the chapters. I think this is important as the target audience for this site is younger kids. As such, you may also “Report” any inappropriate comments, assuring that the site remains PG. All these social elements make Pottermore essentially a social media community for a very niche group of people.
It will be interesting to see what kind of advertising dollars will go into the site, as I noticed there are no banner ads as of now. Although, I’m not sure that Pottermore will need ad dollars to keep up, as it is making money in a different way: About two weeks ago, Pottermore officially launched its E-Book store where fans could purchase digital versions of the entire Harry Potter Series, available only for Kindle and Nook e-readers. The bookstore, which topped sales of £1 million in just three days, is the only place readers can buy the digital versions of the series, although Amazon and Barnes and Noble have been able to market it on their respective tablet bookstore apps. (I guess Apple’s iBook store missed the boat on this one as it did “The Hunger Games” trilogy, which is still not available on the iBook app.) Regardless, I’d be willing to bet that the Harry Potter books are among the fastest-selling E-Books in history by the end of this year.
As an adamant reader of the books and fan of the movies, I’m very excited to see the Potter magic continue even after all seven books and eight movies have been released. Just imagine what it means for the younger part of the digital revolution who will get to grow up alongside the books, movies, and now this interactive web experience.