Pottermore Beta Encourages Wand-Play With Minors

The beta version of Pottermore, the much-discussed multimedia-moneymaker-somethingorother announced by J.K. Rowling in July, has gone live for a few thousand obsessive fans. How obsessive? To qualify as beta testers of Pottermore, they had to find seven different clues on seven different websites on seven different days. At the Sony website, they were asked how many owls appear on a particular shop sign in Diagon Alley, and told to multiply that number by seven. At the Guardian website, they were told to multiply a particular Quidditch game's score by 35. (Wizarding is mathy business.)

Apparently, the fans performed these tasks in order to find a magic quill, which, having been found, secured their invitations via e-owl to attend the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardy — which is to say, to log in to Pottermore.com.

It's apparent that Pottermore is much, much more than an e-book shop. As reported by 14-year-old Aine Monaghan at The Daily Mail:

According to pottermore.com, I am kind, hardworking and patient. The site drew that conclusion after I was asked questions from Hogwarts' famous sorting hat.

Subsequently, I learned I was a member of Hufflepuff, one of the four houses at the school.

A Hufflepuff is born!

Before she was sorted, though, Aine had to get "kitted up" in Diagon Alley, where she "bought" her spellbooks and whatnot from various wizarding shops and chose (or was, uh, chosen by) a suitable wand. (Unicorn hair and dogwood!)

No actual buying takes place at Diagon Alley, for Pottermore is free. Which is lovely. A noble effort on the part of J.K. Rowling to soothe the phantom-limb pains of the billion young readers who've never known a world in which another Potter product isn't a year or two away. May their comedowns be easy.

But what about all the non-young readers who've signed up for Pottermore, who are even now taking to the internets to impersonate magical 11-year-olds? One such non-youngun, HuffPo blogger Bryan Young, wrote:

I was simultaneously excited and dismayed to receive an owl by email this morning. I'd been granted early access to Pottermore. I was excited because I was one of the first few thousand to get in. I was dismayed because I got the email thirty seconds before I was to head off to work.

To say I've been distracted today would be an understatement.

Young came home from work, did the Diagon Alley thing, dashed off to Hogwarts from Platform 9 3/4, and...

... that's when the fun really starts. You're sorted into a house at Hogwarts through a series of questions. The questions don't seem to have obvious paths to any specific house but, again, the results seem oddly prescient. As I read the books, I was quite confident I'd be sorted into Ravenclaw and this only confirmed my suspicions.

Good for him! He goes on to proclaim his joy at exploring hitherto unknown corners of the Potterverse, learning behind-the-scenes titbits from J. K. Rowling about the series' genesis, making potions, earning points for Ravenclaw, and engaging his 11-year-old classmates in magical duels.