LONDON (Reuters) - The seven Harry Potter novels will be available as ebooks in October, author J.K. Rowling said on Thursday at the launch of a new interactive online website that will allow readers to navigate through the wizard stories.
Rowling gave her clearest indication yet that she would not write an eighth Harry Potter story to follow the final installment published in 2007 by Bloomsbury in Britain and Scholastic in the United States.
“I do have closure with Harry,” Rowling told reporters at the launch of the Pottermore website (www.pottermore.com).
“I have no plans to write another novel. I’m pretty sure I’m done on the novel front...But it was fun while it lasted.”
Such is the scale of Rowling’s fan base and the success of her novels that any indication of a new novel would be major news in the publishing and cinema world.
The long-awaited launch of the ebook versions could itself bring in many new readers to a series of stories that has already sold 400 million copies around the world and generated a record-breaking movie franchise made by the Warner Bros. studio.
The ebooks will be exclusively available from October in several languages on the Pottermore site, which has been set up in partnership with Sony Corp. They will be usable on all major electronic reading devices.
“It is my view you can’t hold back progress,” Rowling said in London.
“Ebooks are here and here to stay. Later than a lot of people, I for the first time downloaded ebooks and it’s miraculous for travel and for children in particular. I feel great about taking Harry into this new medium.”
The unveiling of Pottermore and its online store comes three weeks before the release of the eighth and final Harry Potter film “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2,” also an event likely to generate huge media and fan interest.
Harry Potter publishers around the world, Warner Bros and Sony have supported the launch of Pottermore, and are all set to benefit commercially from the Pottermore Shop.
Rowling said Pottermore was about giving something back to her fans around the world, who were among the first to create a large and influential online community. It was also about encouraging people to read more, she added.
“We knew there was a big demand for ebooks, but ... I wanted it to be something more than that,” the author explained.
“I wanted to pull it back to the reading, to the literary and story experience ... I’ve had a lot to do with virtually every aspect of it.”
There are around 18,000 words of new material in the form of background on characters’ lives, for example, and the history of the houses at Hogwarts school.
The free site allows visitors to become part of the stories by going through the Sorting Hat process, for example, or visiting Diagon Alley to buy anything from wands to potions to help them navigate the magical and “muggle” worlds.
The site only covers the first novel “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s (Sorcerer’s) Stone,” and the remaining books will be added over time. The storyline of the second book will go live in early 2012.
Rowling said she had been working on the project for around two years.
The site opens for registration on July 31, the fictional Harry Potter’s birthday, and the first million people to register will get early access to the website and the chance to help put the final touches to the experience.
The site will open to all users in October.
Although closing the door on the Potter series, Rowling did not rule out publishing an encyclopaedia of Potter’s world.
“Will there ever be an encyclopaedia? Possibly. If ever I do do a printed encyclopaedia, I would like for all the proceeds to go to charity.”
Editing by Paul Casciato