Henry Jenkins muses on Pottermore

Fan-culture expert Henry Jenkins on why the transmedia project Pottermore matters

“Rowling [the Harry Potter author] is making a commitment to provide fans with a large chunk of additional information about the world of Harry Potter […] Some estimates suggest that she’s already got 100,000 words of new material which is going to be inserted into the interstices of the original novels”

“… it may be a comparable to when George Lucas took a smaller salary on Star Wars in return to a percentage of the revenue from ancillary products, a decision which helped paved the way for Star Wars as a ur-text for transmedia storytellers and entertainers.”

He rightly points to the likely problems that Pottermore will face with press / social networks leakage and unwanted spoliers. He also hints there may be mirroring or bundling of Pottermore‘s contents on pirate sites alongside fan-written erotica (apparently abundant, according to his article). This sideways shift may be an inadvertant consequence of the site having to comply with the various national laws that restrict children’s free speech online.

Problems such as participatory engagement with fans on published storylines might be easier to solve, perhaps through a tightly structured ‘sealed-bid’ pitching and filtering process? There might even be some generous merchandise and student-placement bundles for fans whose story or story-world idea makes the final cut in a published e-book. This would help to overcome the hurdle that, as Jenkins puts it…

“people [fans] are doing creative work for free which benefits corporations without getting any revenue in return.”

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