Whence Rowling’s Twitter Silence?

J. K. Rowling has the largest twitter following of any author, steady at 14.7 million, but she has — with one brief marketing note last month and two re-tweets in March — been silent on this mega social media platform since January 2019. In May I posted three reasons I thought credible as explanations for this silence: personal problems, a court ordered injunction, and, hope driving argument, a decision to write novels and screenplays (or novels instead of screenplays!) rather than waste her energies on ephemeral politics. She was, after all, becoming a popular target for the social justice cognoscenti to berate for her insufficient woke-ness.

The thought occurs this week in light of the PotterMore rebranding as WizardingWorld.com and the advent of the Harry Potter Fan Club and its $75 Gold Membership subscriber’s fee that the more obvious reason of monetary gain may explain Rowling’s departure from the platform as well as any other. Yes, this is post hoc propter hoc reasoning, a logical fallacy, but just because something happens after something else does not mean that the first might not be the reason for what follows.

The theory is simply this: the bean counters employed by Rowling to maximize her income from her various interests and copyright material advise her to consolidate her property under one umbrella, ‘Wizarding World,’ and to monetize the PotterMore website. They urge her to desist from her posting on twitter because her acerbic and fiercely partisan political posts simultaneously offended millions who do not share her “progressive” views and gave away access to her writing and thinking to those who didn’t mind the bad language and uncharitable posturing.

Ceasing to post on twitter, in other words, would create scarcity for those hanging on her every word while at the same time allowing those on her political right and left the time necessary to forget their differences with her and return to thinking of her as “just the Harry Potter lady” with all the fun memories of the reading and film experiences they enjoyed. All these groups, be they the unquestioning fans, the super-vigilant police of the Politically Correct, or those who voted (egad!) for Brexit or Trump, would be more likely to buy Gold Memberships if she would just shut up for, say, ten months, if not the indefinite future.

Considering the blows being delivered to her brand via over-exposure late last year, her commitment to her legacy charities, and the lack of any effectiveness of her tweets in moving those not already convinced to share her position, I doubt Rowling, if this ‘follow the money’ explanation of her departure from twitter has any relationship with reality, would have wept at the cost to her of following the advice. She gets her life as a writer back, her critics are effectively silenced for lack of new material, and there is the promise of a huge payday by the holidays.

Say 1% of her twitter followers become Gold Members of the new Harry Potter Fan Club at WizardingWorld.com. That would be 147,000 people who pay $75 each year for the foreseeable future to get worthless pins and inducements to purchase or visit other products and properties or just over $11 million annually. Now go ahead and use more realistic figures, say 5% or 10%, and do the math. Volant Charities and Lumos will be funded in perpetuity and Rowling’s remarkable goals of finding a cure for Multiple Sclerosis and of placing institutionalized children into homes with families have that much more chance of becoming reality.

And perhaps this is the best way to think about all this for those of us who find the $75 cost of access to Rowling’s Potter material more than a little galling, which is to say, make it a contribution to her charities rather than to Rowling, Inc.

What are your thoughts? Does this ‘twitter silence due to maximizing monetization’ theory pass the smell test? Will you be paying the $75 fee? Do you think Rowling will ever return to daily tweeting?

Only $75 to Join Harry Potter Fan Club?

In ‘PotterMore is No More’ I discussed the announcement that Rowling, Inc., had made that the web site dedicated to serving (servicing?) Harry Potter fandom was to be renamed WizardingWorld.com and that a gold membership in that site’s Harry Potter Fan Club would come at the cost of an annual subscription, i.e., the site would no longer free to all.

Last week the roll-out continued with an announcement of what a gold membership in the Harry Potter Fan Club would include as exclusive benefits and how much it would cost. The benefits are essentially pathways to participate in fandom destinations and events (read them all here) and the cost is “$74.99 (US) or £59.99 (UK) per year.”

That’s just over 22 cents a day to receive bulletins about what’s going on in the Rowling universe and how you can participate by purchasing something from them.  Having to pay to receive what are largely inducements to buy more Rowling, Inc., memorabilia and packaged ‘fan experiences’ is galling, no?

That said, it remains a source of wonder to me that Rowling has paid her PotterMore staff millions of galleons for close to a decade to create and maintain a website that brought in money only from the sale of eBooks. I’m curious about how many serious Potter Pundits will feel obliged as I do to subscribe — let me know in the comment boxes below what your plans are — but, galled as I may be at having to pay this fee, I find it hard to resent anyone wanting to be paid for services provided.

Your thoughts?

Potter-Themed Halloween Costumes

For sale today at BodenUSA.com: off the rack children’s Halloween costumes with Harry Potter themes.

My first thoughts are “Isn’t the fun in making your own costume?” and “One more cashing in on the global shared text (let’s hope we get a cure for MS out of all this.”

What do you think?

Alohamora Podcast: Ring Composition 2

This time last year Kat Miller and the Alohamora gang at MuggleNet invited me on their super-powered podcast to speak to their global audience about Ring Composition. That first show — which you can listen to here — went over so well that they invited me back to talk in much greater detail about one pair of books, Chamber of Secrets and Half-Blood Prince, and the many correspondences between them. It was a lot of fun, even “geeky glee,” which you’d expect with readers who know the Hogwarts Saga as well as the Alohamora crowd do. Click on the link below in Kat’s announcement of the episode, have a listen, and then let me know what you think!

EPISODE 281: RING COMPOSITION, PART DEUX – THE BOOK INSIDE THE BOOK

Wipe off the floor under where you’re sitting and get ready for another jaw dropping Ring Composition episode. Part Deux is here!

PotterMore No More! And So What?

PotterMore.com is now WizardingWorld.com which is the name change covering a host of new online fandom fun from ‘Wizarding World Digital.’ The short story? JKR, Inc., is monetizing PotterMore at long last. Here is the official announcement:

Wizarding World Digital today announces the launch of The Official Harry Potter Fan Club, which can be experienced through the first ever Wizarding World app – a Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts mobile companion, and new, interactive Wizarding World website. Whether you’ve considered Hogwarts a home for over 20 years, or you’ve only recently been bewitched by a Niffler, everyone can now immerse themselves in the ever-expanding magical universe in new and innovative ways.

The Wizarding World app allows users to discover which house they belong to with a re-imagining of the famous Hogwarts Sorting Ceremony, featuring J.K. Rowling’s original questions and a new augmented reality Sorting Hat, whilst those fans that have been previously sorted can reaffirm their house pride. The new app is also packed with fresh content including exclusive videos, interactive quizzes and Secret Codes, plus the new fanzine ‘Wizarding Weekly’, putting the best of Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts right at your fingertips.

WizardingWorld.com – the new online home of Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts is where fans can enjoy all they loved from Pottermore.com, but with a trunk full of original content and new interactive experiences. Delve deeper into the stories you love, get behind-the-scenes details and enjoy all your favorites from J.K Rowling’s archive of writing for Pottermore.

Accessible through both the app and the website, fans will be able to join The Official Harry Potter Fan Club for free. This will provide them with curated experiences from the Wizarding World, including an official Fan Club newsletter and member benefits. And soon, fans will have the option to enhance their membership experience with Wizarding World Gold, a yearly paid subscription that comes with a unique, annual gift and is packed with exclusives and special offers – all of the magic you love and more!

All these great experiences and features can be unlocked by registering for a personalised Wizarding Passport which is a fan’s magical identity and holds their defining traits such as their Hogwarts house, Patronus and Wand.

Paul Kanareck, Managing Director of Wizarding World Digital says: ‘The Harry Potter global phenomenon continues to be loved by fans of all ages – from the millions of people who discover the books for the first time to those who explore the movies, audiobooks, stage play, visitor attractions and games each year. We have a wonderful opportunity to create new experiences including a fan club for the digital age, which offers an amazing breadth of content and new interactive platforms that will give our fans around the world a truly connected experience across the Wizarding World universe.’

The Wizarding World app, available with the newly reimagined Hogwarts Sorting Ceremony can be downloaded today for free in the initial launch territories on the App Store for iPhone and Google Play for Android. Selected features will also be hosted globally online at WizardingWorld.com for fans who cannot access the app at this stage.

As with the Cursed Child logo being brought into line with the published books and released films, this consolidation of PotterMore into the Wizarding World, Inc., monolith is just about making a loss-leader that sustains fan interest into a bona fide money maker, the aptly named ‘Wizarding World Gold.’ I am surprised only that it took them this long to monetize their principal web site, that so much of the content will still be free, and that anyone begrudges Rowling and her minions the Galleons of global gold they’ll be depositing in Gringotts for decades.

Your thoughts?