Thousands of dressed-up Harry Potter fans stood in line for the midnight premiere of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two, simultaneously excited for the movie and distraught over what many considered to be the “end of an era.” Fortunately for her fans, Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling has a little something more up her sleeve.
Pottermore, an online project created by Rowling in partnership with Sony, will open to the public in October. Pottermore will be a “unique and free-to-use website which will build an exciting online experience around the reading of the hugely successful Harry Potter books,” stated a Pottermore press release.
Although most information about Pottermore is being kept under wraps, Rowling said in a prepared statement that she has “brought to life both the Sorting Hat and Ollivanders experiences from her books,” and that users will also be able to visit Diagon Alley, mix potions, cast spells and compete for the House Cup.
Laramie Taylor, assistant professor of communication, is intrigued that the focus of the site is on the original text, rather than on newly created stories.
“What will be interesting is if fans who have thus far organized their fanship around the movies, avoiding the books because of a reluctance to read or an orientation towards electronic media, find the interactive site to be an appealing way to engage the text,” said Taylor in an e-mail interview.
People who are already fans of the novels have something to look forward to, as well. Pottermore will feature never-before-seen background material written by Rowling regarding the characters, places, and objects that Potter fans have come to know and love.
Pottermore is intended to be a place where Harry Potter fans can come together, united in their passion towards series, Rowling said in a June 23 press conference.
Allison Callow, a junior international relations major and organizer of the Davis chapter of the Harry Potter Alliance, believes that the fans’ ability to unite is one of the most unique aspects of Harry Potter fandom.
“We congregated in conference halls discussing the series, we wrote our own stories based on the characters, we created a special genre of music, thousands of pieces of art, and started a non-profit organization,” said Callow in an e-mail interview. “And most importantly, we made friends and carried on some of the many messages of the series: friendship and love.”
Fans flocked together once more on July 31, as Rowling launched an as-yet-unknown online challenge. The first million people who completed the challenge and registered for the site will gain early entry into Pottermore.
Though many are hesitant over Rowling’s use of the Internet for her next Harry Potter project, Thomas Reeder, a senior biological science major and a member of the Davis chapter of the Harry Potter Alliance, is a fan of digital distribution.
“The Harry Potter community will only grow larger as a result. It is a fandom that has had a strong online presence for a very long time,” said Reeder in an e-mail interview. “This is just going to become an entry-point for those less familiar with the internet, such as younger children, as well as a repository for new content.”
While some fans may be skeptical about seeing their beloved series in an online format, many are excited about Pottermore and place their trust in Rowling’s decision.
“Rowling began this incredible phenomenon that encouraged millions of people to pick up a book and to tap into their own imaginations and discover more about the world around them,” Callow said. “That, I think, is truly the incredible part about the entire phenomenon.”
RACHEL RILEY can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.