Pottermore and Publishing: A Look at the Multimedia Empire of Harry Potter

Harry Potter is a name almost immediately recognizable today in 2016—whether your first thought is of a lightning scar, the Marauder’s Map, or the volume of fans across the world who have for years celebrated the cultural phenomenon that J. K. Rowling’s wizarding world became. On the first day alone, 8.3 million books were sold when Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was released on July 21, 2007. As consumers, we read, we wept, we watched the movies, we dressed up as characters, and we reluctantly celebrated the completion of such an influential story with the release of the last movie in 2011.
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My Date with Harry Potter

Note: if you haven’t read my previous post about Harry Potter, you just need to know that I swore I’d never read the books. And then I did.
Spring break is a time for many students to decompress, read for pleasure, or not read at all. This past Spring break, however, I had a mission: finally read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Not a huge or horrible task, I’ll admit, but there was a part of me that was worried: what if, after all this time, I loved it? Or hated it?
You see, up until now, I had an answer and a firm stance on why I hadn’t read them. I could tune out when others talked about Pottermore, sorting quizzes, butterbeer—although that always sounded delicious—and mail delivered by owls. Until now, it was just a fun story.
Then the worst thing happened: I fell in love with Harry Potter. I read Sorcerer’s Stone, then Chamber of Secrets, then picked up Prisoner of Azkaban. I was hooked.
In between these, I took five sorting quizzes! Pottermore, BBC America, and BuzzFeed sorted me into Ravenclaw; Playbuzz says I’m Hufflepuff; and Entertainment Weekly picked Slytherin. No Gryffindor? But why? According the Pottermore website, “Ravenclaws prize wit, learning, and wisdom. It’s an ethos etched into founder Rowena Ravenclaw’s diadem: ‘wit beyond measure is man’s greatest treasure.'” Oh, yeah, I’m totally Ravenclaw. I’ve also been given a wand of elm with a dragon heartstring core. I’m very excited.
Now I’m at a crossroads: I’m three books in on a seven-book series, I know how it ends thanks to the movies, but once I’m done will this obsession grow or subside? Will I find myself one of the many who dream of visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter? (The California one—no flying to Florida for this woman. No broomsticks either, for that matter.) Will I feel the urge to buy the whole set to read again and again like The Giver (one of only a few books I’ve read more than once)? Or will I be able to walk away, knowing I added this cultural phenomenon to my frame of reference, growing as both a reader and a future publishing contributor? Am I muggle, squib, or mudblood?
I don’t have an answer for these yet. But I think I might finally understand what my friends at Barnes & Noble were talking about, why they stayed up all night to read Half-blood Prince, and why they shook their heads at me when I wouldn’t. Will you ever forgive my ignorance?
Lastly, I’m trying to come to terms with the fact that my new boyfriend and I aren’t in the same house. We’ll only get to see each other in the halls or at a double potions class, with that horrible Severus Snape watching our every move. I’ll cheer him on at Quidditch, through covered eyes, because flying just isn’t right. The sorting hat must know what it’s doing, though, because I’m completely Ravenclaw.