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Pottermore: Less games, more reading

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Quoth the muggle, "Pottermore."

Harry Potter is going digital, but he's bypassing the gaming world for the literary one.

Despite early reports - and an alleged leaked memo - that indicated Pottermore would be an online game with real world prizes, author J.K. Rowling announced a different sort of experience Thursday morning with the formal unveiling of the site.

Pottermore will be the digital home to Harry, Ron, Hermione and the other characters from the hit book and film series - and the only place you'll be able to buy an eBook
version of the tomes, but it will offer plenty of extras for readers.

And while it won't be a Potterized "World of Warcraft," it will have some gaming elements.

Described as a series of illustrated environments, the site lets Potterphiles dig deeper
into the history of the series and characters via 18,000 previously-unread words penned by Rowling - information she says she has been "hoarding for years." By exploring the environment (to some degree like you would in an adventure game), you can find segments of those writings and learn things such as the back-story of Prof. McGonagal's broken heart.

Users start at Privet Drive, letting them explore Harry's childhood home, before moving on to other familiar settings including Diagon Alley and Ollivander's (where they'll get a wand). From there, it's on to Hogwarts, where the sorting hat will put them into one of the Houses - and where they might learn more about the history of non-Gryffindor locales. Along the way will be mini-games, including wand fights.

The Web site initially will focus on elements of the first book - " Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" - with material from other volumes being added down the road.

Rowling, who has been a champion of the written word, told the Associated Press that while she's aware of the demand for a persistent Harry Potter world, it was her decision to keep the young magician rooted in literature.

"We've had a lot of requests for online games," she said. "I wanted to pull it back to reading."

Pottermore will open to the world at large in October (and that's when the eBooks will go on sale as well), but a select group of 1 million fans will get early access to it on July 31st - Harry's birthday.

One thing seems fairly - and sadly - certain, though. Rowling reiterated that while writing the Harry Potter books was one of the greatest experiences of her life, she has no plans to write an eighth book. At best, fans can hope for an encyclopedia of the universe.

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