Posts Tagged ‘pottermore’

What an absolutely wonderful surprise I had on reading my Twitter feed this morning (thanks @Elmblade43!) to find that the Harry Potter ebooks are now available for purchase through the Pottermore store.  This was unexpected to me as I'd not seen any prior announcements that the store was due to open; I'd expected it to be delayed until after the opening of the Pottermore site to the general public given how the original beta launch of the Pottermore site was launched.

I had many misgivings about the Pottermore store given how poorly the beta site was handled.  However, from the moment I went to the store it was clear I was in much safer hands.  The first step in the process was to create a Pottermore shop account (not the same as your Pottermore account, meaning that non Beta Pottermore fans can still purchase the books.)  This was all pretty straightforward.  The rest of the purchase process was too; select the books (I opted for the bundle of all seven for a 10% discount) – and it has to be noted that they are very reasonably priced – $7.99 – $9.99.

The next stage was the one which caused me the most anxiety – how would I get these books to my Kindle?  Would it be a pain in the arse as it is to borrow library books?  I needn't have worried.  On the My Books page, where you go to download the books, one of the options was for Kindle.  I was asked to link my Amazon account and the books immediately appeared in my Kindle archive library and started to sync to my devices.  

 Moreover, the books come with Amazon's Whispersync which keeps you on the same page if you're reading across multiple devices, and on the Kindle Touch it has X-Ray – the feature which helps you keep track of who is who and where in the book they appear.  That is a real blessing for those long series like Harry Potter or George R R Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire. In short, once the books are purchased they are no different from any other book I have on my Kindle.

The whole process is well thought out at least if you buy via a web browser.  Well done Pottermore store.

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Odds and Ends

Posted: October 1, 2011 in Miscellaneous
Tags: , , , , , ,

I thought I would write a short entry today about a few thoughts that have occurred to me.

First, Pottermore announced yesterday on its blog that it is extending the beta process for another month, new registrants will have to wait weeks or even months for their welcome emails granting them access to the site, and that the Pottermore store selling Harry Potter ebooks and audiobooks will not open until mid 2012.  None of this comes as a surprise to those of us in the beta program, who have borne witness to the numerous downtimes and the notorious Purple Screen of Death.  Indeed, it's probably the sensible – if only – decision the Pottermore site managers could make.  It is very disappointing though.  The site itself is fun and interesting when you actually get on, and of course, I was anxious to be able to add the Harry Potter ebooks to my collection.  

Speaking of ebooks, I realised over the last couple of days just how much more enjoyable I find long form reading on my Kindle rather than my iPad, my iPhone or my iMac.  In all fairness, I should add that reading magazines is a delight on the iPad. The books I borrowed from the local library were not compatible with my Kindle, so I had to read on my iPad.  In the end I struggled with it too much and returned the book.  I am now back to reading on my Kindle and loving it.  In terms of weight, the Kindle is much more comfortable to hold for long periods than the iPad. The Kindle (now called Kindle Keyboard) weighs in at 8.7 ounces plus 1.8 ounces for the cover.  The iPad (I have the original one) is 1.6 pounds plus a cover.  I have two kitties who like to be petted while I read and it's very uncomfortable to hold the iPad one-handed for a long while.  As I have mentioned before, eInk is much more comfortable on the eyes.   Over at Bit101.com there is an interesting macro photo comparison of the screens:

Kindle

iPad

iPad

My next reading challenge is some fantasy not written in English.  As I am in Quebec, I have been looking to find Anne Robillard's Les Chevaliers d'Emeraude in ebook format.  I was finally able to find book one on Archambault's website.  It will be interesting to see if I find reading fantasy as enjoyable and understandable when it's not written in my native language.  I have read French translations of American/British fantasy works before, and do prefer them in their original English.  

Odds and Ends

Posted: October 1, 2011 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , ,

I thought I would write a short entry today about a few thoughts that have occurred to me.

First, Pottermore announced yesterday on its blog that it is extending the beta process for another month, new registrants will have to wait weeks or even months for their welcome emails granting them access to the site, and that the Pottermore store selling Harry Potter ebooks and audiobooks will not open until mid 2012.  None of this comes as a surprise to those of us in the beta program, who have borne witness to the numerous downtimes and the notorious Purple Screen of Death.  Indeed, it's probably the sensible – if only – decision the Pottermore site managers could make.  It is very disappointing though.  The site itself is fun and interesting when you actually get on, and of course, I was anxious to be able to add the Harry Potter ebooks to my collection.  

Speaking of ebooks, I realised over the last couple of days just how much more enjoyable I find long form reading on my Kindle rather than my iPad, my iPhone or my iMac.  In all fairness, I should add that reading magazines is a delight on the iPad. The books I borrowed from the local library were not compatible with my Kindle, so I had to read on my iPad.  In the end I struggled with it too much and returned the book.  I am now back to reading on my Kindle and loving it.  In terms of weight, the Kindle is much more comfortable to hold for long periods than the iPad. The Kindle (now called Kindle Keyboard) weighs in at 8.7 ounces plus 1.8 ounces for the cover.  The iPad (I have the original one) is 1.6 pounds plus a cover.  I have two kitties who like to be petted while I read and it's very uncomfortable to hold the iPad one-handed for a long while.  As I have mentioned before, eInk is much more comfortable on the eyes.   Over at Bit101.com there is an interesting macro photo comparison of the screens:

Kindle

iPad

iPad

My next reading challenge is some fantasy not written in English.  As I am in Quebec, I have been looking to find Anne Robillard's Les Chevaliers d'Emeraude in ebook format.  I was finally able to find book one on Archambault's website.  It will be interesting to see if I find reading fantasy as enjoyable and understandable when it's not written in my native language.  I have read French translations of American/British fantasy works before, and do prefer them in their original English.  

Pottermore – At Last!

Posted: September 12, 2011 in Miscellaneous
Tags: ,

Finally after 39 days, 21 hours and ten minutes, my Pottermore welcome email granting me access to the beta site finally arrived.

Pottermore welcome email

As you can imagine, I was rather excited to receive this long awaited missive, and it was well timed as I am on holiday from work this week. 

I logged on straight away and was immediately charmed by the beautiful artwork created for the site.  Much of it is interactive, so that in Chapter 1, for example, when you move your mouse over Professor McGonagall in her cat Animagus form her tail swishes.  The highlights of Book One on Pottermore have to be the choice of your pet avatar, Wand selection, and being Sorted into your Hogwarts House.

When the time came to choose my pet avatar I knew I wanted a cat, being a cat lover.  I was torn between the tabby and the ginger, but the tabby didn't look like my Isis and the ginger had a similar look to Noah, so the ginger it was.  

After purchasing my supplies at Diagon Alley, it was off to Ollivanders to be chosen by my wand.  After answering a few simple questions I ended up with a spruce wand with unicorn tail core, ten inches, quite flexible.  Apparently, spruce wands need a firm owner or they tend to do whatever magic they feel like!

Like many Harry fans, I had already strongly identified with one of the Hogwarts Houses – Hufflepuff.  I believed that that House's attibutes of fairness, and a strong work ethic were most representative of me, so, it was with some trepidation that I entered the Sorting.  J.K. Rowling introduced it in a video, and then it was off to answer the questions.  I answered as honestly as I could, so I was astounded to be placed in Slytherin for the cunning and ambitious?!?  Ah well, Slytherin House has gained a remarkable young wizard – me!  

Another highlight of Pottermore is the additional background information provided by J.K. Rowling herself.  I was particularly touched by Minerva McGonagall's story and amused by Neville's tussle with the Sorting Hat.

At this point the site is currently still in its beta incarnation.  Wizard duelling is still unavailable, potion making is still a kind of hit and miss, and the site is regularly down for maintenance.  Also, the e-book store is unavailable, one of the main draws of the site for me, so I cannot comment on the efficiency of e-book purchasing compared to Amazon.  I suppose that is for a later blog entry.

I stand by my earlier comments – it is a fun site, but I believe the beta has been misshandled.  Of the 1,000,000 beta early registrants expecting access before the end of the month there are only 330,714 currently activated and Sorted.  That leaves a lot of people to go yet.

Pottermore – Slightly Bemused

Posted: August 16, 2011 in Miscellaneous
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So, this entry continues on my recent theme of Pottermore, JK Rowling’s latest website offering.

Having worked many years on web projects myself, I’m rather bemused at how this project has been handled.  Honestly, when the early entry beta was announced did the Pottermore team not realise that several hundred million Harry Potter fans would be screaming at the gates, clamouring for IMMEDIATE access?  That means access now; not in October, not next week, now.

Sometimes it seems as if the Pottermore team hasn’t quite realised that these beta testers are fans, not professional IT people.  Fans don’t care about balancing server loads, ensuring a good cross section of users across all languages or across regions.  They just want to access the new content from the brilliant mind of JK Rowling, to be chosen by a wand and to be Sorted into their Hogwarts House.

The very low numbers (approximately 10,000 of the one million beta users) who have actually got to access the site since the beta started on the 31st of July appears to have left many people at worst angry and frustrated, at best apathetic about the new site.  In a fan’s perfect world, access would have been granted as soon as the Seven Books, Seven Days, Seven Chances challenge was over.  Several days passed with no access granted and no news from the Pottermore team.  Fans were eagerly refreshing their email inboxes to check for the arrival of the all-important email advising that their account had been activated for access.  No emails were received, and no news from the Pottermore team was forthcoming.

Worse – the login link from the homepage disappeared.  With rising frustration amongst fans, the Pottermore team was forced to send a holding email confirming early access and advising users that their accounts would be activated at some point between the middle of August and the end of September.  The end of September… the Pottermore site is opening to the general public in October… 

So yesterday, the first few users were let in.  The Pottermore team didn’t make it clear what criteria they used to select these fortunate few.  There seemed to be a mixture across all days of the challenge, so users who got in on day one answering the most difficult question ("how many owls in the Eylopes shop banner?  Multiply by 49") were rightfully livid to realise they were still waiting while people who got in on day 7 with the easiest question "("How many Deathly Hallows are there?  Multiply by 7") were already in and enjoying the content.

In all fairness, it’s difficult to see how the project could have been managed differently.  It’s a unique project in terms of web development, with a very passionate and unique user base.  It’s unlikely fans would have been happy with anything less than immediate access no matter how much the Pottermore team tried to manage their expections.

As for me, I’m just hoping I can get in more than 24 hours before 400 million fans descend on the site in October.

Pottermore

Posted: August 5, 2011 in Miscellaneous
Tags:

I decided it was time I started blogging about my passion for fantasy literature and shared my views on some of the books I’ve been reading, movies I’ve seen and TV shows I’ve watched.

Along with many Harry Potter fans, I’d been intrigued by J.K. Rowling’s announcement of the Pottermore website.  Promoted as an "online Harry Potter experience," few details were released.  Clearly though, it is a vehicle for Rowling to market the Harry Potter ebooks.  JKR shrewdly retained the ebook rights for herself.  Hey, I’m a Kindle and ebook lover, so that’s all good with me.  If, in addition I get to be Sorted into a Hogwarts House (am I the only person who’d be content to be Sorted into Hufflepuff?) and choose my wand, I’m sold.  

Additionally, it appears JKR will be contributing a significant amount of new Harry Potter content via Pottermore.  She’s talked for some time about publishing a Harry Potter encyclopaedia.  It would appear that she has chosen to publish this online rather than in the traditional format.  More Potter content?  Bring it on, I say.  

Anyway…. Pottermore is due to go live in October, but "a select few" – one million Harry fans – will be granted beta access. Seven books, seven days, seven chances.  In order to win one of these coveted beta places, Potterites must answer a question on the Pottermore website, leading to another website (yes Sony and Warner Bros, we know you’re sponsoring Pottermore…) where they can then catch the Magical Quill.  This will then allow them to register for the beta site.  For those unaware, in Rowling’s world the Magical Quill records the birth of each magical child in a large book.  

The challenge all sounds fairly easy doesn’t it?  The snag?  The clue only appears for a short period each day. You snooze, you lose.  Fortunately on Wednesday I was able to be on the site at the time the clue was posted – honestly, boss, I was working, really, truly – and i am now registered as a beta user of the Pottermore site.  Look me up under ShadowGold157 if you ever get access.  To be honest, I have the impression that anyone who REALLY wanted to be in the beta program would have succeeded, especially if they followed the Pottermore Insider and/or watched Twitter for the #Pottermore hashtag.  (OK, yes, I freely admit it; I’m a geek.)

As I write this, the last clue is on the Pottermore website and those registered for the beta program can expect an owl (OK, email) to be heading their way in the coming weeks informing them their access to Pottermore is now granted.  Pottermore has made it clear that not everyone will be granted access straightaway and if you wished to view Pottermore in a language other than English your beta registration does not guarantee you access before October.  My own theory is, that there are seven days in the Magical Quill challenge, and approximately seven weeks between now and general release of Pottermore.  I suspect it will be a case of those who found the quill on day one will have access in the next few days, those from day two in a week or so.  Based on that, I am not anticipating that I will gain access before early September. 

One burning question occurs to me as I await my access.  Can Pottermore, even backed as it is by JKR’s billions, handle ebook sales as efficiently as Amazon?  Pottermore is the only place to buy official Harry Potter ebooks.  One of the reasons I chose a Kindle over say a Kobo was the confidence I have in the Amazon brand.  I know that should my ebook file become corrupt I can easily redownload it from Amazon.  Likewise if I have any problems I know I can call Kindle Customer Service and the issue will be resolved in a timely, professional, no-fuss manner.  I am slightly anxious about trusting my custom to Pottermore.  Only time will tell.  

For those of you who have also got beta access, I look forward to seeing you on Pottermore, and I will certainly be blogging my experiences.

Currently reading: Spirit Gate by Kate Elliott
Currently watching: Battlestar Galactica: Season 1