LONDON (AP) — Harry Potter’s adventures are going digital.
Author J.K. Rowling announced Thursday that her seven Potter novels will be sold as e-books starting in October, ending the boy wizard’s status as one of the highest-profile holdouts against digital publishing.
The magical stories that conquered the world in print form will be available as audiobooks and e-books in multiple languages through a new website, “Pottermore.”
Rowling also has written 18,000 words of new Potter material for the interactive site, which promises to immerse users in her world of wizards, combining elements of computer games, social networking and an online store.
Rowling says the site includes “information I have been hoarding for years” about the books’ characters and settings.
“Pottermore” has been the subject of intense speculation among Potter fans since it appeared on the Internet with the words “coming soon.”
The project unveiled in London lets Potter fans delve into the world of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Sections let users shop for wands in Diagon Alley, travel to Hogwarts from the imaginary Platform 9 3/4 at London’s King’s Cross train station and be sorted into Hogwarts school houses by the perceptive Sorting Hat.
Along the way are wand fights, games and new information about characters beloved around the world, including Harry’s reviled relatives, the Dursleys.
The site goes live July 31, when 1 million registered users will be chosen to help flesh out the online world. It will be open to all users from October, in languages including English, French, German and Spanish.
“(It’s) a way I can be creative in a medium that didn’t exist when I started the books back in 1990,” Rowling told reporters, a way to incorporate the thousands of “stories, drawings, ideas and suggestions” she still receives from fans, four years after the last Potter book was published.
Harry Potter fans who have been sharing enthusiasm and stories online for years should be delighted by the new digital world. But Rowling said she wanted to keep the emphasis of the site firmly on the written word.
“We’ve had a lot of requests for online games,” she said. “I wanted to pull it back to reading.”
The seven Harry Potter novels have sold more than 450 million copies and made Rowling one of the world’s richest women.
The last book, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” was published in 2007, and Rowling said she still has no plans to write an eighth.
But she said Pottermore was a way to reconnect with a character and a universe she loved.
“It is exactly like an ex-boyfriend,” Rowling said.
“Finishing writing Harry – I have only ever cried in that way and that much when my mother died. I have never cried for a man the way I cried for Harry Potter.”
The latest Warner Bros. film, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2,” has its world premiere in London on July 7.
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