It was last year that J.K. Rowling announced Pottermore. It was intended to be her official website for, well, more Harry Potter material. Initial interest was intense, but details were scarce. Plenty of people attempted to sign up immediately for the beta launch—as in, an overwhelmingly large number, so many that the site was swamped. It was a bit of a slog to sign up (and it still is), primarily because of the need to address the safety of younger fans. And then the official opening was delayed, and six months passed until if finally went fully live. The question now is, three months in, is it good? And is it really filled with new Harry Potter material?
I’m not a rabid Harry Potter fan who has read and reread the books, memorizing every last word and performing expelliarmus spells in my sleep. I am a normal fan who has read all the books and seen all the movies and enjoyed them all quite a bit, and despite the fact that I am far from a young reader, I don’t mind admitting it. So I came to the site curious and hopeful. What I was expecting was a bunch of text pages with maybe little short stories or anecdotes supplementing the main novels, and maybe a store selling all sorts of Harry paraphernalia (Potterphernalia?). What I got was something else entirely. It was astonishing.
Pottermore is engrossing and dynamic. Certainly it’s aimed at younger fans, and it will pull them right in with visual recreations of scenes and locales from the books (well, the first book; the site is far from finished), click-throughs and animations, and best of all, detailed writing from Rowling, providing background on the characters, or insights into why she wrote things a certain way, the sort of material that young Harry fans will devour (and adult fans will enjoy as well). And there’s a lot of it. The only commerce I saw was a nice shop from which one can download the novels as ebooks or audiobooks.
I’d say that as the movies were about as good as you could ever hope as dramatizations of the books, the website is about as good as you could ever hope as a digital experience. If you have young fans in the house, get them signed up. They’ll love it, and they won’t be hounded by silly ads selling them junk they don’t need. It’s more pure reading joy with an overlay of a sophisticated but uncomplicated computer game.
In other words, Pottermore.com is another hit for Rowling.