Muggles everywhere are going mad.
"Harry Potter" author JK Rowling has launched a mysterious new website, Pottermore.com, but with only a pink background, the world “Pottermore,” a pair of owls, and a promise of more “coming soon,” she’s keeping fans in the dark – and keeping them guessing. (A Rowling spokesperson has confirmed only that the site is "not a new book" and "not directly related" to the final "Potter" movie, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2," which will be released next month.)
A “Secret Street View” challenge guided fans to the site earlier this week, as 10 Potter fansites were given coordinates, each of which led to a single letter. Put together, the letters spelled out Pottermore.
Rowling is stirring the pot with a YouTube announcement page counting down the days, hours, minutes, and seconds to her June 23 announcement. It proclaims, “The owls are gathering. Find out why soon.”
No other details about the new project have yet been revealed. So what might the Pottermore website be?
• “Fans immediately expressed hope that the project would be the long-promised Potter encyclopedia,” reported The Guardian. Rowling has suggested she has extra material from her seven books that she would like to compile and share with fans, writing on her website, “I might do an eighth book for charity, a kind of encyclopedia of the world so that I could use all the extra material that's not in the books ... we'll see!”
• David Sztypuljak of the blog HeyUGuys has stirred speculation that Pottermore might be a MMORPG or Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game, an online game in which users assume characters and virtually live, play, and interact in Harry Potter’s universe. Currently the most popular MMORPG, “World of Warcraft,” has more than 11 million people playing. “The idea of bringing Potter out as an MMORPG does sound extremely appealing. I bet there are millions of people out there who would want to live inside the world of all things Harry Potter with J.K. Rowling or those in charge able to add new elements to the game all the time,” wrote Mr. Sztypuljak. “This could simply be a new viral to promote the movie but we have a feeling it could be much more than that.”
• Others have speculated Pottermore might simply be a sort of fansite 2.0, a way to keep Potter fever alive, as – after the premiere next month of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2" – Rowling’s books and movies will all have been released.
• Sky News has suggested the mysterious new site may be a series of online chat rooms and electronic bulletin boards. According to Sky, Pottermore was trademarked in 2009 by Warner Brothers. “The trademark description of Pottermore suggests an interactive site "providing online chat rooms and electronic bulletin boards" and "online facilities for real-time interaction with other computer users concerning topics of general interest,” reports Sky News.
The one thing we do know: Pottermore is not another book. A representative of Rowling told the Guardian, “All we can say is that Pottermore is the name of J.K. Rowling’s new project. It will be announced soon, and it is not a new book.”
And then there’s this: The Leaky Cauldron, a Harry Potter fansite, got a preview of the new site, and called it “one of the most amazing, engaging, and breathtaking additions to this fandom imaginable.”
Husna Haq is a Monitor correspondent.