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Rowling plays coy with “Pottermore,” her new not-a-book project.

June 17, 2011

'Arry! Watch out for the snake behind the curtain!

While I was finally catching up with the most recent Harry Potter movie last night, unbeknownst to me J.K. Rowling had the webberverse in an absolute turmoil over a new website, thus proving once again that she is the Madonna-Gaga of contemporary literature.

I mean, really, what’s the real talent shared by Madonna and Lady Gaga? No, not singing. Not dancing, either, although Madonna was pretty good at that. Songwriting? Nope, sorry. Oh, good guess — charisma! But no — yes, you in the back? Right! Marketing! They are both marketing geniuses.

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And so is Rowling. Consider the timing: We’re more or less a month away from the July 15 opening of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, the eighth and last movie in her stupendously popular series. It’s the perfect moment for Rowling, who has said there will be no more Potter books, to announce a mystery project.

It’s called Pottermore and right now it’s nothing but a website with its title, two owls and the words “Coming soon…” scrawled above Rowling’s signature. Click on one of the owls, however, and you’re linked to a YouTube countdown page telling you how long until Jo’s announcement. (Right this instant, that’s 5 days, 21 hours 32 minutes and 14…13…12…11…10… What? What? Where am I? Oh –.)

Ahem. As much as I like the books, which is a lot, I can only stand back in awe and wonder at Rowling’s absolute brilliance as a marketer. Just when you’d think interest in the Potter brand would be both peaking and fading, she comes up with something to ratchet up public interest and anticipation.

I mean, it’s been nearly 15 years since the publication of the first book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, way back in the dark ages of 1997 — before Google, before e-books, before smartphones, before YouTube, before Netflicks. (On the other hand, newspapers were thriving, the stock market was healthy, most people had a job, and real estate was boring).

My point: Rowling’s first readers have children of their own now, and kids who were infants then are probably reading Twilight or The Hunger Games. Harry Potter’s great and all, but, except for the new movie, it’s so 2007 (when the final book in the series came out).

By announcing the new venture without telling us what it is — essentially announcing an announcement, much like a Republican presidential hopeful — Rowling has lit up the Internet with speculation: Can’t be a book, right? Is it an interactive multi-player role-playing game? A comprehensive Potterverse website? A cool new official fansite?

Definitely not a new book, according to spokeswoman”Rebecca Salt (is her sister’s name Evelyn?), nor is it directly related to the upcoming movie. Potterfreaks will just have to wait a few more days.

In the meantime, I confess that after watching Deathly Hallows: Part 1 last night, I’m more jazzed for the final installment than any movie yet in the series.

I’ve always thought the movies were stagy and hollow, vastly inferior to the books — with the exception of Prisoner of Azkaban, thanks to director Alfonso Cuaron — and that’s why it’s taken me this long to catch the first part of Deathly Hollows.

But I was gobsmacked by what an excellent adventure the movie is — though long, the narrative is tight, the characterizations are textured, a wealth of incident is juggled with nary a slip, and the acting has never been better. The final scene, which appears to be a triumph for the vilain, Voldemort, left me excited, satisfied and eagerly anticipating the final movie

It is, in short, the first movie in the series that matches the excellence of the novel on which its based. Bravo. I don’t really care much about whatever “Potterville” might turn out to be — what? Oh, right, I mean “Pottermore” — but I can’t wait for July 15.

One Comment leave one →
  1. June 17, 2011 2:06 pm

    She may be coming to PurpleUmpkin. Is it true she in fact is a Murple in the book? There is in fact a J.K. Murple. The answer will be coming soon.

    (How did I do?)

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