Harry Potter heading online with Pottermore

Harry Potter author JK Rowling has announced the imminent launch of an official portal to all things related to the boy wizard in the shape of Pottermore.

Sponsored by Sony, the web site is described as a unique free-to-use online experienced based around reading the immensely popular Harry Potter books.

With all seven books in the series already published, and the eighth highly lucrative episode of the film franchise now completed, some cynics might suggest that Pottermore is just another way to squeeze a bit more revenue out of the golden goose. And that assumption wouldn't be too wide of the mark.

Apart from encouraging a new generation of readers to buy the books, DVDs and other Potter-branded goods, Pottermore will offer audio recordings of the series as well as e-book downloads for the first time.

Rowling is also keeping her writing chops in shape until she comes up with another idea by penning loads of new material about the characters and places featured in the tales.

The site, which opens its doors in October, will initially be available in English, French, Italian, German and Spanish, with more languages to follow.

Fans can submit their e-mail addresses from today and will be notified about opening registration which happens on July 31st. The first million fans who sign up on that date and complete a wizardly challenge will be given early access to the beta version of the site.

The Harry Potter books are the most successful in history, selling 450 million copies worldwide in 200 territories and 70 languages. They have made JK Rowling a very wealthy woman indeed.

The Pottermore team is led by one-time Warner Bros exec Neil Blair, ex Fox Kids and Central TV MD Rod Henwood and Tom Turcan who was once responsible for all things digital at the Guardian.