Why Pottermore is a wee bit balls

Inevitably, during the course of the Society of Young Publishers’ conference today, the subject of Pottermore was brought up. How could it not have been? With the focus on the digitalisation of books and experimenting how we can respond and input those responses to books, Pottermore was a natural end point for some people.

Twitter user Amanda asked the conference at large:

I’d love to know what everyone at#sypconf12 thinks of the idea of#pottermore and why it’s not as successful as it should’ve been?

I was going to put my thoughts in a reply tweet, but they’re slightly too long. In the interests of saving your tired eyes from too much strain, I’ve streamlined my thoughts as much as possible. Here we go:

  1. It’s just pictures. Yes, they move a bit, but not much. Yes, there are sounds, but only on a repetitive loop. (Stay outside Flourish and Blotts in CoS, for example, and see how much you end up grinding your teeth at the laughter track.) Yes, they’re quite beautiful, but really… so what? That’s not enough compensation for the pitfalls of the rest of the site. Which leads me on to…
  2. We’ve already got the films. My immediate reaction, once I’d seen the extent to which Pottermore actually stretched, was, “Oh. Well, if I’d not seen the films, and been a bit younger, I’d be impressed…” There is little point providing visual context to the books when you can just stick on a DVD and let Alan Rickman do what he does best (that’s sneer and raise his eyebrow, in case you’d not worked that out).
  3. The site is as clunky as a goat in platform shoes. Click to zoom, click to zoom again, accidentally click and get zoomed out again, try and click on an object that you’ve been asked to click on and accidentally zoom out even further – then back in – ad. nauseam. Yawn. Let’s not mention how tricky it is to brew potions, especially if you’re using a trackpad.
  4. The time between updates is far too long. The product isn’t good enough to make me want to keep checking back, either. I’ve been a Potter fan for eleven years, and I’ve a reasonable attention span – if they can’t keep me, that’s probably not a good sign. Add in the fact that the public opening was delayed and delayed – not a good way to run an ebook shop, however prettily-decorated (which is essentially what it is).
  5. The improvements made between Beta and live were not really good enough. Yes, I’m aware it’s a completely free service, and I should be grateful. But air is free as well, and I’d rather breathe good-quality air than smog. What irks me is the sheer volume of hype that was built up around it, and then it turned out to be a big boring clunky mess. Pottermore really hasn’t delivered.

For anyone who’s interested, yes I’m on the site (I was a Beta user). There was one really great bit – the Sorting. And, yes, I am a Slytherin.

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About fictavia

Fictavia (noun): writer, critiquer of the publishing world and witty reviewer.

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