Thursday, June 23, 2011

J.K. Rowling opens the door to Harry Potter’s world online

AP Photo/Akira Suemori
British author J.K. Rowling poses for photographers, above, as she announces her new website project Pottermore at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, Thursday, June 23, 2011. For the Pottermore project Rowling has written new material about the characters, places and objects in the Harry Potter stories.

The black cat is out of the bag.

Muggles will soon be able to visit the world of Harry Potter online. Author J.K. Rowling announced today that her seven Potter novels will be sold as e-books in multiple languages through a new website, “Pottermore.”

The announcement brings to an end – not only the boy wizard’s status as one of the highest-profile holdouts against digital publishing but all of the speculation.

Fans who were hoping for another volume won’t be disappointed.
According to a report by the Associated Press, "Rowling has written 18,000 words of new Potter material for the interactive site, which promises to immerse users in her world of wizards, combining elements of computer games, social networking and an online store." This includes information Rowling said she has "been hoarding for years" about the books' characters and settings.

The site goes live July 31.

On this day, 1 million registered users will be chosen to delve into the world of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and shop for wands in Diagon Alley, board the train from the imaginary Platform 9 ¾ at London’s King’s Cross train station and be sorted into Hogwarts school houses by the perceptive Sorting Hat.

It will be open to all users from October, in languages including English, French, German and Spanish.
"(It's) a way I can be creative in a medium that didn't exist when I started the books back in 1990," Rowling told reporters, a way to incorporate the thousands of "stories, drawings, ideas, suggestions" she still receives from fans, four years after the last Potter book was published.

To the delight of Harry Potter fans, who have been waiting since the last book, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” was published in 2007, the the possibility of wands fights, games and ongoing information about Harry’s family and the other beloved characters from the books seems almost endless.

To the delight of writers, Rowling said she wants to keep the emphasis of the site firmly on the written word.
"We've had a lot of requests for online games," she said. "I wanted to pull it back to reading."

Having sold more than 450 million copies of her seven Harry Potter novels has made Rowling one of the world’s richest women. Rowling said Pottermore was a way to reconnect with a character and a universe she loved.
"It is exactly like an ex-boyfriend," Rowling said. "Finishing writing Harry - I have only ever cried in that way and that much when my mother died. I have never cried for a man the way I cried for Harry Potter."

Harry Potter comes to an end on the big screen, in London July 7 and in the U.S. July 15, when Warner Bros. film releases, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2."
-- AP contributed to this report

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