Say this much for Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling: She knows how to keep people talking about her creation. After the letters for a mysterious new project were doled out via a scavenger hunt across multiple Potter fansites, the website for that project, dubbed “Pottermore,” lay enticingly empty for a full week, while Rowling’s YouTube page featured a clock counting down to a video announcement. This left a full seven days for fans and media outlets to speculate about what Pottermore could be, anything from sequels/prequels (though that theory was quickly debunked by Rowling’s publisher) to a massive multiplayer online game to a long-talked-about Potter encyclopedia to, according to a hilariously misinformed/Confunded Gawker tipster, a Harry Potter-branded smartphone.
Well, the day has finally arrived and we finally know that Pottermore is, in fact—cue the sad trombone—a new “interactive online experience.” Considering there are roughly 50 kaberjillion Harry Potter fansites dotting the web like so many freckles on a Weasley’s face, what can Pottermore offer fans that they can’t already get elsewhere? Well, crucially(ish), it’ll be the only place to purchase Harry Potter e-books, which have been unavailable up to this point due to a shrewd arrangement by Rowling with her publishers. Reports have suggested e-book rights would be worth upwards of $160 million; by selling them on her own platform—which is DRM-free, meaning they can be read on any e-book device—Rowling stands to make much, much more than that, ensuring she can now buy a solid gold money bin in which to house her current solid gold money bin.
But what of fans who already have the words to all seven Harry Potter books tattooed to the inside of their brains and therefore have no need of e-books? What does Pottermore offer them? Well, according to Rowling, she’s written extensive new material—more than 18,000 words, some of which will presumably back up that whole “Dumbledore is gay” assertion—that will be incorporated into the website for readers to read and interact with as they follow along in the story, giving Potterheads a handy excuse to re-read the books once again (perhaps in a handy new e-book format!). Wired has a gallery of screengrabs from the site, which admittedly look pretty cool—though not as cool as an actual new book would be, Jo.
Pottermore.com won’t launch fully until October, though early access will be granted to “a lucky few.” (Like those who stayed up all night to liveblog the final book back in 2007, perhaps?) In the meantime, here’s the nifty papercraft-assisted video of Rowling’s announcement.