Thursday, June 23, 2011

Pottermore: My Two Cents

I have to say, I find myself pretty disappointed right now.  As we’ve all undoubtedly heard by now, JK Rowling’s “Pottermore” project is an interactive “web experience” to be launched in October that will feature new factoids and info about the books and (unsurprisingly) peddle merchandise to the young people who frequent it.

I think I would have been all right with this announcement were it not for all the excessive hype.  In a way, I suppose I should’ve known it wouldn’t be a new book or anything like that, because something as awesome as a new Rowling story wouldn’t need such an intense marketing campaign— people would be excited by the mere prospect.  On the other hand, though, it just seems like too much for the launch of a web site:  I remember back when Jo revamped her own web page, quietly and in a way that provided for a pleasant surprise for those of us who visited it. And while I understand that the moment for understated developments in the Potter world has passed, I had thought that Jo was above taking advantage of her young fans’ enthusiasm (although it must be said that I am certain that this whole bonanza was not solely her idea).

I don’t mind that Pottermore ended up being less thrilling a project than I expected.  I don’t even mind the transparent attempt to keep the focus on Rowling and these books now that the movies are coming to an end.  But what really bothers me is the merchandising aspect.  As soon as I started reading the press release I knew there would be some way to profit off these kids, and it didn’t take long to find.  Selling the already existent merchandise is one thing; the kids who think they “need” it will purchase it regardless of its being on this site or any other.  But what rankles the most is the prospect of marketing e-books to kids who are part of a generation where the paper and binding book is dying a slow and torturous death.  To me it seems almost irresponsible:   Rowling is credited with almost single-handedly reintroducing a generation to literature and reading, and now she’s jumping on board with this.

Maybe I’m too much of a purist.  Maybe it’s ridiculous that I think writers, especially writers who are so indebted to the rich history of traditionally published literature, should do their best to preserve it, regardless of what they stand to gain financially by participating in the “new media” approach to books.

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