First Sight: Pottermore.com, the internet

3.00

Millions of Harry fans want more, and Pottermore – sort of – delivers

It's what weeping children and sullen teens have been waiting for since the author J K Rowling unveiled the project in June; the official Harry Potter website, Pottermore.com, came online yesterday, to the relief of a select group of fans among those left broken-hearted by the conclusion of the film franchise this summer.

More than a million early doors "beta" accounts were released to fans around the world. We waited for more than two hours to receive our secret login information as the launch was delayed until 4pm.

There has been drama off and on the site, with high-tech conmen selling fraudulent Pottermore accounts on eBay for as much as £100. There have been more than 22 million views of the homepage, which contains only a registration form and welcome blurb.

Rowling and her developers said the site is designed for users of all ages and is free to join when it officially opens in October. Once they enter, visitors can participate in challenges, collect trinkets, and generally immerse themselves in the fictional realm that has captivated generations since the first of the seven books was published in 1997.

The site is supposed to be a sort of add-on rather than a standalone entity and it is laid out in a way that prioritises reading the books rather than just logging on. Essentially an interactive theatre set, it takes visitors through the story, scene by scene, allowing them to click on frames and features to learn more. Soon I find myself reading a comment from Rowling herself on exactly why she named Harry's childhood home 4 Privet Drive.

"I have never been fond of the number 4, which has always struck me as a rather hard and unforgiving number," she explains in a side-bar that unfurls like parchment and has her signature at the bottom.

It's a sort of interactive York Notes, should the Potter books ever find themselves on the syllabus and one can't help wondering how it would be to navigate, say, The Waste Land in this format, with T S Eliot's spidery notes laid alongside a barren landscape of stony rubbish and red rock.

Within five minutes of entering the site, I have received four friendship requests from other fans – all of whom have given themselves rather more adventurous names than mine (my email address), names that plumb the depths of Pottermania, referencing obscure mythical creatures and rarefied spells.

In only a few seconds, an entire community has blossomed, with message boards detailing every minute reaction to each scene and revelation. "This is all so wonderful!" says one. "I'm shaking right now," says another. I can only presume these are children since, despite the catch-all age range, the visuals and facts are very firmly of the sort enjoyed only by 2ft pedants. Judging by its first showing, Pottermore will not change the world. It will not bring back that feeling of excitement before each of the books was released – but it might just add an extra layer to reading, encourage a few to explore a little further. It's the modern equivalent of all those extraneous hobbit maps and elfin dictionaries that a groaning J R R Tolkien found himself under pressure to produce.

And it's comforting somehow to know that a modern, mass-multimedia movement such as this could have started on a bookshelf – which would be a far better place to look for entertainment and inspiration.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Chocolat author Joanne Harris has spoken about the financial struggles most authors face

books
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from How To Train Your Dragon 2

Review: Imaginative storytelling returns with vigour

film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Josh Hutcherson, Donald Sutherland and Jena Malone in Mockinjay: Part 1

film
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Characters in the new series are based on real people, say its creators, unlike Arya and Clegane the Dog in ‘Game of Thrones’
tv
Arts and Entertainment
A waxwork of Jane Austen has been unveiled at The Jane Austen Centre in Bath

books
Arts and Entertainment
Britney Spears has been caught singing without Auto-Tune

music
Arts and Entertainment
Unless films such as Guardians of the Galaxy, pictured, can buck the trend, this summer could be the first in 13 years that not a single Hollywood blockbuster takes $300m

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus has her magic LSD brain stolen in this crazy video produced with The Flaming Lips

music
Arts and Entertainment
Gay icons: Sesame Street's Bert (right) and Ernie

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Robin Thicke and actress Paula Patton

music
Arts and Entertainment
The new film will be shot in the same studios as the Harry Potter films

books
Arts and Entertainment
Duncan Bannatyne left school at 15 and was still penniless at 29

Bannatyne leaves Dragon's Den

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The French economist Thomas Piketty wrote that global inequality has worsened

books
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant and Benedict Cumberbatch

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck plays a despondent Nick Dunne in David Fincher's 'Gone Girl'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty (L) and Carl Barât look at the scene as people begin to be crushed

music
Arts and Entertainment

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Caral Barat of The Libertines performs on stage at British Summer Time Festival at Hyde Park

music
Arts and Entertainment
Ariana Grande and Iggy Azalea perform on stage at the Billboard Music Awards 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Zina Saro-Wiwa

art
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
    Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

    A writer spends a night on the streets

    Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
    Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
    Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

    Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

    Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
    Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

    Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

    This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
    Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

    Why did we stop eating whelks?

    Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
    10 best women's sunglasses

    In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

    From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
    Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    The German people demand an end to the fighting
    New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

    New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

    For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
    Can scientists save the world's sea life from

    Can scientists save our sea life?

    By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
    Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

    Richard III review

    Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice