With the final Potter DVD hitting shelves on Friday, you could be forgiven for thinking that JK Rowling’s wonderful wizarding bender is at last at an end, but you’d be wrong. The author is keeping fans enthralled with her magical universe through never-ending rumours surrounding new books, the construction of “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” in Orlando and now, Rowling’s greatest ploy to date, the creation of Pottermore.
Pottermore is an interactive fan site which features games, background details, unreleased notes and content as well as audio and e-book versions of the fantasies. While it is still in the beta phase, 1,000,000 of Harry Potter’s biggest fans already use the site regularly and it’s scheduled to open for general use any day now. But is Pottermore really the author’s gift to her loyal followers, or is it just another marketing ploy being used to squeeze every last penny from the ravenous fan base?
‘JK’ herself has smartly advertised the site as a gift, allowing her to pay back the fans for their support (probably worth about 50 gazillion pounds thus far). In her press conference announcing the launch she said, “Pottermore has been a really great way to give back to the Harry Potter readership, who made the books such a big success.”
True, the content is being offered for free and readers are doubtlessly foaming at the mouth to get a chance to read about the origins of Helga Hufflepuff, Hedwig’s life before Hogwarts and whether or not McGonagall and Flitwick ever got it on, what’s more there is no reason you have to buy anything on the site if you don’t want to.
But there are doubts about the seemingly innocent nature of Pottermore and some believe there’s more to the portal than meets the eye. When the website first launched this summer, Guardian blogger Sam Jordison wrote; “it would be refreshing if she just admitted she was once again going to bewitch parents and children alike into emptying out their pockets… But to do so would be bad marketing. Everyone knows the most important rule of selling is to convince the sucker who’s paying that you’re doing them a favour.”
Having said that, the demand for Pottermore isn’t in question and apparently most of the material was already in existence, it just needed a platform, as the author explained recently. “I had more than half of the new material already written or in note form. I literally dug some out of boxes.”
Rowling stands to make millions from e-book sales and once the site opens, it will be the exclusive provider for digital copies of the series. Yet many have pointed out that selling on Pottermore benefits the fans because Rowling will be cutting out Amazon and iTunes and providing directly to readers. As the author says, by cutting out the middle man, fans everywhere are “having the same experience pretty much at the same time.” Other than the digital sales, all that JK gets out of the site is prolonged interest in the huge Harry empire.
Given that she is worth £560 million, it’s hard to imagine that JK can be motivated by financial gains anymore and besides, she makes money from e-book sales no matter where they’re offered. At this point, she seems genuinely interested in giving her fans full-access to the ridiculously intricate world of Harry Potter which is no bad thing. While Pottermore is experiencing problems with its public opening, which was supposed to take place in October, it is only a matter of time until we are all privy to the behind-the-scenes information and digital books for sale. Potter lives on!