After years of refusing to release her boy-wizard books in electronic format, Harry Potter mastermind J.K. Rowling is finally taking the digital plunge, launching an online store that will sell Harry Potter e-books directly to consumers and a social-networking site designed to keep the Potter magic alive.
The free-to-access site, known as Pottermore, launches for the first million users on July 31 and opens to the general public — with the online e-book store — in October. Once the online store opens, the full Harry Potter series will be available as e-books in multiple languages, compatable with any electronic reading device.
Pottermore is a full-on Harry Potter online universe that allows readers to join a Hogwarts house and travel through the first Harry Potter book, while collecting points and playing games. Perhaps the biggest draw is the extra material that Ms. Rowling has written and unearthed from her notes, which gives intense Potter fans much-desired background and explanations about key characters, places and plots.
“I’ll be sharing additional information that I’ve been hoarding for years about the world of Harry Potter,” Ms. Rowling said in a Monday press conference in London. “I can be creative in a medium that didn’t exist back in 1990 when I started writing the books.”
Ms. Rowling has built the Potter franchise into a behemoth since the first of her seven Harry Potter novels was published in 1997. The series – the final installment of which was published in 2007 — has sold more than 450 million books worldwide, and spawned an eight-part film franchise for Time Warner Inc.’s Warner Bros.that is about to wrap up. The series is also featured in “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” area at the Universal Orlando theme park. In 2010, Forbes magazine estimated Ms. Rowling’s net worth at $1 billion.
Now, Pottermore is Ms. Rowling’s next step toward keeping the franchise alive and vital beyond the book series.