Visit Pottermore.com and you’ll see a magenta homepage, two owls, a “coming soon,” and that’s it…oh, except it’s also launched by J.K. Rowling. Cue a collective internet “OMG” as Harry Potter fans across the world rejoice over the fact that they may not have to say goodbye after the last movie, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, hits theaters on July 15.
Click on the owls and you’re brought to a YouTube (NSDQ: GOOG) page titled “J.K. Rowling’s Announcement,” with a countdown clock to an announcement that (as of this writing) is 6 days, 11 hours, 26 minutes, and 54 seconds away. “The owls are gathering…” says the text under the video. “Find out why soon.”
Other than that, details are basically nonexistent, which probably makes Rowling’s new venture only that much more intriguing to Harry Potter obsessives. Rowling has confirmed only the following to the AP: The site is “not a new book” and “not directly related” to the upcoming movie.
Yesterday Rowling sent fans on a scavenger hunt leading them to the new site: She sent coordinates to ten Harry Potter fan sites. The coordinates had to be entered at another website, secretstreetview.com, which uses Google Maps technology. After fans collected all ten coordinates, they could zoom in on them to reveal the letters of Pottermore. “Even though this is not a new book, we have been informed it is something equally exciting,” wrote Mugglenet, one of the fan sites providing coordinates.
Rowling also launched a Pottermore Twitter account, which has already gained nearly 35,000 followers in roughly negative five minutes.
There’s also a Pottermore Facebook page that is unaffiliated with the official project but that contains three screenshots purported to be from the upcoming site. “This editor has seen a sneak preview and it is breathtaking in scope, detail and beauty,” writes the page’s creator. The images, which could absolutely be fake but are quite detailed, show a library with bookshelves, a bookstore storefront, and a larger shelf with books on it. Here are the images:
1 / 5Pottermore.com storefront
2 / 5Book selection
3 / 5Library
4 / 5Countdown to J.K. Rowling's announcement
5 / 5Countdown to J.K. Rowling's announcement
Fans at Chamber of Secrets, a Harry Potter message board, are analyzing the images and are particularly interested in the “Encyclopaedia” link that appears in a navigation bar at the top of each; the blurred Harry Potter covers; and the notion of writing tutorials and a writing competition for fans. There’s also a link for a “Shop.” “GAHHH ebooks!!!!” one fan wrote on the Facebook page.
The fan reaction reveals a pent-up demand for an increased official Harry Potter presence online. While J.K. Rowling has her own website and Scholastic and Warner Bros. have Harry Potter pages, those sites really don’t come close to offering the interactive, slightly obsessive experiences that other mega-bestselling authors, like Rick Riordan and James Patterson, have created for their books.
In addition, the Harry Potter series has never been released as e-books. Rowling holds the digital rights to the books and has declined to exercise them for years, which has seemed, well, insane–but it makes a lot more sense if she’s been planning to launch her own e-initiative all along.
The Scotsman reported in April that Rowling was finally “actively considering” e-book plans, and most took that to mean that she was considering selling the digital rights (in a move that could potentially increase her net worth by hundreds of millions of dollars). But it’s possible she has even bigger plans for the e-books. We may have an answer in a little over 6 days.