Pottermania, Pottermore

Are you like me -- an avid Harry Potter fan? If so, you will be excited to learn that JK Rowling will launch a free online Harry Potter experience: Pottermore. This site will launch in October 2011, although the public is invited to register their email address for potential early access on 31 July, which will be granted to one million lucky muggles.

(Yes, I registered.)

Currently, Pottermore is intended to function as an outlet for Harry Potter ebooks and audiobooks, which have not yet been available to the public in either of those formats. All seven Harry Potter books will be available as both ebooks and audiobooks at the October launch.

The Harry Potter ebooks will not have any digital restrictions management (DRM) copyright protections, unlike most ebooks. This is important because the Harry Potter interactive ebooks will not be hopelessly chained to one device, such as Amazon's Kindle or Apple's iPad -- both of which lock their ebooks to their particular platforms. So now you won't have to purchase a specific device just to read these ebooks.

But if you're thinking of stealing a Harry Potter ebook, think again: these ebooks will include a digital watermark that identifies the book's purchaser. This ensures that the ministry's web police can track down the muggle shared his or her copy of an ebook with the rest of the world, and sue the pants off that person for copyright infringement.

Even those who own four or five copies of the complete Harry Potter series (ahem, I need one copy of the complete series for every language I speak!), these ebooks are going to be special because they will have added content: some elements of the stories will be in an interactive format, such as the Sorting Hat and a Wand Chooser. Yes, this is tantalising for us Harry potter fans who are video gamers.

To further tantalise us gamers, the Pottermore site will include interactive storylines. The first book's storyline will be available at the October launch, whilst the second book will be available in 2012. Here's a video interview where you can get a brief explanation of what will be on the Pottermore site:

If the previous video didn't give you enough to scream about, here's JK Rowling's official announcement, which includes some of the animations that will appear on the site:

If you are a video gamer, as I am, you are probably wondering where is the video game? I am disappointed that Pottermore won't have an online video game. However, the (likely) future success of the Pottermore site (plus the annoyance created by all the millions of whinging fans) just may motivate JK Rowling to give her IT and digital graphics team the go-ahead to create an online Harry Potter role-playing video game. If she does that, the average muggle will never again have to venture out-of-doors in his or her lifetime because, hey, let's face it, there's no electricity and no wireless out there.

"I wanted to give something back to the fans that have followed Harry so devotedly over the years, and to bring the stories to a new digital generation," said Ms Rowling in her video press release.

"I hope fans and those new to Harry will have as much fun helping to shape Pottermore as I have. Just as I have contributed to the website, everyone else will be able to join in by submitting their own comments, drawings and other content in a safe and friendly environment -- Pottermore has been designed as a place to share the stories with your friends as you journey through the site."

Your devoted fans want an online role-playing video game.

My reading of the trademark registered by Warner Bros. doesn’t necessarily preclude the possibility of such a game in the future. The application (yes, I know the link is nonfunctional right now) states that Pottermore will be a service “providing multiple-user access to a global computer information network, [...] on-line chat rooms and electronic bulletin boards for transmission of messages among users in the field of general interest [and] on-line facilities for real-time interaction with other computer users concerning topics of general interest.”

Hrm. It sure sounds like the site could to expand to meet the users' additional demands, and probably the most persistent (and realistic) of those demands is for an online role-playing video game. So I ask you, my fellow Pottermaniacs, would you go absolutely batshit crazy if an interactive role-playing Harry Potter game popped up on the Pottermore site?

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