A rather mysterious website popped up in recent weeks, leaving media and Harry Potter fans wondering what on earth J.K. Rowling might be up to with Pottermore.com. Was it an online video game (perhaps a World of Warcraft style MMORPG), a continuation of Rowling's series of books about young wizards, an online encyclopedia, or was it a marketing gimmick as part of the release of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2," the final instalment in the Potter movie franchise? Many people were hoping that it might have something to do with J.K. Rowling's rumored musing about finally releasing the Harry Potter series as e-books.
On June 23, a video featuring author J.K Rowling appeared on Pottermore.com.
"13 years after the first Harry Potter book was published," began Rowling, as she introduced Pottermore.com, an online environment that will build on the Harry Potter experience by offering a safe, unique, and engaging place for readers. Rowling promises new illustrations and interactive navigation, enabling Potter fans to participate in events such as mixing potions, being sorted into a house and casting spells, as they progress through the books.
Most importantly (at least for us), the Harry Potter series will finally be released as e-books, and will be offered exclusively through Pottermore.com. There is no word yet on pricing or format, although Sony is the major named partner in the site; based on its Reader line of e-readers, it's a pretty safe bet that EPUB will be offered. Presumably other competing platforms won't be left out of the party —especially the number one selling Kindle, but we don't have confirmation of that as yet.
E-reader manufacturers will be salivating over this announcement, even Amazon which apparently (based on the claim of exclusivity through Pottermore.com) won't be able to reap the benefit of selling the Harry Potter e-books directly. The site will be going live in October, priming the fuse for the Christmas shopping season. There are an estimated 450 million paper copies of J.K Rowling's books in circulation and the series continues to appeal to readers of all ages. An entire generation of young readers are poised to go digital, and the newly available Harry Potter e-books combined with lower priced, next generation e-readers and the momentum already seen for this year are setting the stage for an end of year boom in e-reader sales.
Full press release here.