Friday, June 24, 2011

Pottermore: Awesomeness or Meh?

The other day @MarionJensen asked on Twitter if we thought Pottermore was #HUGE or #yawn. I couldn't fit my answer in 140 characters, so here goes. 

Will Pottermore be a popular internet destination and continue the Harry Potter empire? Yes.

Will the affects of Pottermore be felt across the publishing industry? Probably.

Will Pottermore change the face of publishing and be the death knell of traditional publishing? No.

Let me just say, there is a lot to #yawn about, but there is also potential for #HUGE awesome.

Before I go on, you need to know that everything I've seen so far looks cool. The screenshots are beautiful and remind me of the artwork from the US covers, but not too much. The descriptions of the site and how it will work sound great. And we can buy the eBooks! I may not qualify to be in the first million to sign up in July, but I'll definitely be there when it opens up to everyone. I mean, it's HARRY POTTER. I know there are people who aren't fans out there, but face it, you're in the minority. Sorry.

With that out of the way, let's look at what J.K. Rowling is doing with Pottermore.

She is setting up a website that enhances her books. #yawn. This has been done so many times.

The website will have interactive games that tie in with the books. #yawn. Again, been-there-done-that. In fact, crossovers from books to games to movies to TV to t-shirts to household items have been going on for a long time.

The website will have a social network component where people can interact with each other. #yawn. Everything today is becoming a social network.

She is partnering with Sony to create the site. #yawn. Don't get me wrong. Sony is a big company with years of experience producing some great games. If Sony wanted to create a site for me, I would be ecstatic, (Note to Sony Execs, I'm available via email, Twitter, and Facebook.) but anyone with enough money and a big enough platform could do the same thing. It's not revolutionary, so #yawn.

She is releasing the eBooks on her website. #yawn. Yes, they are Harry Potter books, but really, how many authors have released eBooks on their websites? Just this week?

"But wait!" you say, "Where's the #HUGE you talked about?"

I'll tell you.

While nothing about Pottermore is especially groundbreaking by itself. It's fascinating when you put it all together. I'm not privy to the internal details, but I'm guessing this is how it will go down.

She'll release the first book on the site with the games and social aspects that go along with it. There will be a flood of people visiting, some will buy the books, some will play the games, and some will stick around. Several months later (maybe a year), she'll release the second book along with an update to the site. Media blitz. Even more people go to the site, more people experience the games, more people stick around. This goes on for three to seven years. During that time, she not only has eBook sales and plenty of news hype, but she also has a loyal following of people signed onto Pottermore. She has statistics the likes of which marketers would die for. She has a direct communication network with her most loyal fans, and a social structure to keep them united and energized. That is #HUGE.

What about her traditional publishers? I don't think it's doom and gloom for them. Can you say, new releases of the books with special codes in them to get you cool stuff on Pottermore? Even if this doesn't happen, a rising tide lifts all ships. The publishers will see a bump in book sales. Plus, they get to see the results of this big experiment without putting any of their dollars on the line. Let's face it, book publishers aren't (currently) in the business of creating web destinations. If this works, that may change. Or maybe one of these big game companies (who have been doing pretty well lately) may buy up a publisher to get access to their properties. That would be #HUGE.

Pottermore feels more like a step in evolution and not a revolution. I think it's a great step. The recent changes in publishing are exciting and this just adds to the excitement. While I think much of what J.K. Rowling is trying to do is #yawn-worthy, when you put it all together it's #HUGE.

And in the immortal words of Ron Weasely, "Not good, brilliant!"

* Pottermore image © J.K. Rowling

1 comment:

Danyelle Ferguson said...

I've been hearing about all this Pottermore stuff, but haven't actually looked into it. I'm intrigued now and will have to check into it more. BTW - love the Ron Weasely quote!!!

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