Just days after the release of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, fully illustrated by Jim Kay, Potter fans have something else to look forward to—and something else to buy.
JK Rowling announced on social media just hours ago that iBooks is releasing the entire Harry Potter series, enhanced with illustrations, “animations and interactions.” One look at the 30-second promo for the collection will show that the Pottermore art we’ve loved since 2011 has been recycled.
Pottermore used to be a place where Harry Potter fans could go to feel like they were entering the magical world of Hogwarts. They could be sorted into a house, concoct potions, and most important, walk through most “moments” of each book, interact with the vibrant illustrations, and feel like the book had come alive in a way that the films don’t quite achieve.
Pottermore was a gift to fans, a free experience that united all Potter fans, a testament to the enduring power of these stories and to the fans’s dedication to the story and its creator. JK Rowling gave the fans Pottermore, but then it all changed.
True, after working through all the books, the Pottermore experience didn’t really invite a lot of return traffic. I’m sure that featured into the decision to relaunch Pottermore without any of the original interactive elements, and frame it as a fansite with less information than most others, like MuggleNet or The Leaky Cauldron (and some of it was even inaccurate).
But now that Pottermore art is being repurposed, to create an enhanced version of the series we already had, but never had to pay for until now. Did it really have to be this way?
Most fans share these sentiments.
A quick scan of Twitter shows that many are disappointed in what seems like a bid for more money. While most fans know Rowling better than that, we can’t help but wonder.
— Jenni Adara (@JenniAdara) October 8, 2015
— Francesco Finucci (@FrancescoFinucc) October 8, 2015
However, there seems to be an explanation/new developments. The Pottermore Twitter account has been busy since the announcement, answering tweets from fans who are eager for some of Pottermore’s old features back, most notably the ability to be sorted and to pick out a wand. Their comments shed some light on the situation, and offer some kind of explanation for the overhaul they’ve performed with the Pottermore project:
— Pottermore (@pottermore) October 8, 2015
So at least there’s that. The Pottermore site is now mobile, with a potential Pottermore app (please say it’s free!) that may be similar to the original interactive platform. Meanwhile, there will be yet another version of the books to buy.
Digital versions always seemed like a waste of money to me; when platforms change, where will that media go? I’m always thinking ahead, to what the money will buy, and how long the novelty of watching a moving Snitch on my iPhone will last (admittedly, probably a long time).
However, when you take away the bitterness of having to pay for someone many of us had for free for four years, the new format makes a lot of sense. After all, .gifs and the iPhone 6S’s new “Live Photos” both smack of Harry Potter; with new technology comes new ways to read and enjoy Harry Potter. There should be an enhanced digital version, but announcing the release on the heels of the destruction of Pottermore was a poor choice.
Give the fans what they want, then charge them for what they didn’t know they wanted. But alas, Pottermore giveth, and Pottermore taketh away.
The new enhanced series will be available in the App Store, each book for $9.99. No word yet on when/if Android users will gain access to the books.