Pottermore virtual world opens to muggles, wizards, squibs

JK Rowling's new site, with its virtual, magical world of exclusive, interactive content, is now fully open to all.

Aresto momentum and lend me your extendable ears, Potter fans -- JK Rowling's new site Pottermore is now fully open to all, whether you wizard, squib or muggle be. With a nifty flick of the wrist and a mutter of Alohomora, you can enter the virtual world for yourself today.

Pottermore is part-game, part-social network, part-bookshop and part-marketing tool. Until now, users have only been able to purchase ebooks and audiobooks from the site, but you can now register and await your invitation to enter its inner realms. All seven Potter novels became available for download from the site on 27 March and racked up a whopping £1m worth of sales in the first three days alone, according to The Guardian.

Impressively, The Boy Who Lived will not only be remembered for bringing down Voldermort, but for managing to force Amazon to loosen its stranglehold over the digital publishing industry too. In order for Kindle readers to be able to download the novels as ebooks, Amazon must act as a third-party affiliate and, for the first time ever, redirect customers to the Pottermore site, rather than sell the books themselves.

It's not all about handing over your hard-earned Galleons for stories though. A veritable Room of Requirement-full of content is available on the site, including new writing from Rowling, digital games that extend various plots and themes, text from books themselves and opportunities to discuss Potter issues with friends and other users.

Any who have fallen under Harry's spell, young or old, will be genuinely fascinated by the exclusive insight into Rowling's decisions about the naming of places and the backstories of different characters. Ever wondered how Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon ended up together? Now you can find out.

I've clambered aboard the Hogwarts Express to delve deep into the magical virtual world. I get my username (QuestPhoenix10625) and wait for the registration email to arrive, before whizzing through the first few chapters with delight.

My favourite interactive caper so far has been the exploration of Diagon Alley, which was one of my standout chapters from the books. I open an account at Gringotts, shop for a pet cat, and visit Ollivander's to pick up a wand (larch with unicorn core, ten and three quarter inches, slightly springy).

All the while though, I'm worrying about Chapter 7, where I know the time will come for me to be sorted into a Hogwarts House. I'm as nervous as Harry was, and similar thoughts occur to me ("not Slytherin, not Slytherin" and if I'm being brutally honest, "not Hufflepuff, not Hufflepuff").

I tell myself that Ravenclaw wouldn't be so bad, but I know that ultimately, the disappointment if I'm not put in Gryffindor will floor me. I can't guarantee that I won't mount my broom and zoom out of Pottermore in a huff, hiss Avada Kedavra at my browser window and pretend the whole thing never happened.

While the path through the story is not always as intuitive and easy to navigate as it could be, the content, which is clearly designed to be accessible to even the youngest fans, is consistently engaging.

I've yet to discover which house I'll be sorted into, and I'm still keen to find out more about the social features, but if you give Pottermore a go, then do grab your quill and ink your comments, wand result and house allocation in the comments below, or over on our Facebook page.

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    Katie Collins is a Production Assistant on CNET UK where she is charged with keeping the site shipshape and in good working order. She is also the nightwatchwoman for CNET.com's home page, guarding it with her life while America sleeps.

     

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