["Hedwig's Theme" plays]
Andrew: Because everybody is excited, new Harry Potter covers are on the way - at least some people are - this is MuggleCast Episode 262 for February 27th, 2013.
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Andrew: This week's podcast is brought to you by Audible.com, the Internet's leading provider of audiobooks with more than 100,000 downloadable titles across all types of literature, including fiction, non-fiction, and periodicals. For a free audiobook of your choice, go to AudiblePodcast.com/MuggleCast.
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Micah: Welcome to MuggleCast Episode 262. It's a two-man show this week... this month. We are without our fearless host and leader. Andrew is off enjoying himself and attending to other responsibilities at the Oscars.
Micah: Which is a pretty big deal.
Eric: It's a big deal.
Micah: So, it's just Eric and myself here for this particular episode. We have plenty of news to catch up on - some big stories, one Pottermore related, one related to the book series - have several voicemails, tweets, and emails to go through.
Eric: Voicemails are back! Voicemails are back.
Micah: Yes, in full force. Last episode it was just one voicemail - that was just to whet your appetite to get you guys back into the flow of sending in voicemails - but we have quite a few this week.
Eric: Flow it did! We have... well, I won't say exactly how many but we do have quite a few. So, that's great. Thank you guys for sending those in, and we'll also repeat the number for you, the hotline number, as we get closer to the voicemails in the show. So...
Micah: There was an exclusive interview done with Charlie Redmayne, who is the CEO of Pottermore. It was a sit-down interview, where he really went in-depth about this online platform and answered a lot of questions that people had, even addressed some of the fan frustration that has been ongoing, really since the beta test.
Eric: Yeah, we'll include this in the show notes, but PottermoreNews.com released this... it was a two-part interview actually, and they just released the second part only a couple of days ago. But I thought it was really insightful, and I always like hearing from the CEO of Pottermore because he's very passionate about it, but he's also open and honest about where they want to go and what they want to do.
Micah: Yeah. And for people who are wondering will this content stay solely on Pottermore, or will it be seen in book form, he answered by saying that Pottermore is going to evolve into a range of different digital platforms for people to spend time in, and JK Rowling's content will appear in all of that. He mentions the Book of Spells as being one of those additional platforms, and the integration with Sony and PlayStation. And he thinks that you're going to see Pottermore on many different platforms, not just on the Internet, and they're going to show the content using the functionalities of many different devices that are available to make it the best possible experience for all of us.
Eric: I wonder if I can get it in the shower.
Eric: In a couple of years.
Micah: Do you have a TV in your shower?
Eric: No, no, no, but eventually I wonder if they'll sell shower doors that have Pottermore on it.
Micah: Yeah. What was the one thing we were talking about, not so long ago... was on the backs of seats in airplanes.
Eric: Yes. Yeah, which... that would be cool, and I haven't taken a - oh, geez - long enough distance flight for quite a while to actually have - gosh, I miss it - TVs on the back of my seats, but any time you do on sort of an international flight the movie selection screens where you can choose TVs and all that - all the television shows that you want to watch, anything - that would be a great opportunity to review Pottermore and to experience it again if you're going through the different moments and memories and all that stuff.
Micah: Yeah. Well, I actually just took about a three-and-a-half-hour flight to and from Houston for work over the last week, and you need to fly JetBlue more, Eric, because you get TVs on the back of your seats.
Micah: It doesn't matter if you're traveling domestically or internationally... this show is brought to you by JetBlue.com. [laughs]
Eric: [laughs] Well no, no, no. What it is, Micah, you're brought to us by JetBlue.com because it turns out...
Micah: Oh, okay. Is that what it is?
Eric: Yeah, you're brought to us there. But really, just to Houston you had TVs on the back of the seat?
Micah: Yeah. It doesn't matter if you're taking an hour-and-a-half flight to Chicago or a three-and-a-half-hour flight to Texas or you're going all the way out to the West Coast, you get TV.
Eric: I'm just going to ask now, how many seats were there across the aisle? How wide was the plane?
Micah: It depends. They have two types of aircrafts. They have the two and two, with the aisle down the middle...
Eric: And there are still TVs on the back of the seats?
Micah: There are still TVs, absolutely.
Eric: Oh my gosh, here I am thinking it's only big planes. Well, I...
Micah: And they also have the Airbus, which has three on each side.
Eric: I've been proven wrong. That's just crazy. Yeah, usually I get United or Southwest, and it's a tiny plane, and I'm just like, "Okay, clearly they couldn't put TVs on the back of every seat."
Micah: They can. They can.
Micah: You should file a complaint and see how that nets out. But just some other things that Charlie Redmayne touched on in his interview. They asked him how closely is JK Rowling involved in Pottermore, what role does she play. He goes on to say that it was her brainchild, her idea - she wanted to really give something back to the fans, and she's immensely grateful and respectful to her fans - and that she does look at all the artwork that is put into Pottermore. She's not necessarily involved day-to-day - that's more of the Pottermore team that has been hired. And he does mention the fact that he has gone out and hired some of the best digital, technical folk in the business to help with this. I'm assuming most of them are Harry Potter fans. Redmayne says that he is a parent and he has read the first couple of books to his children, who have then gone on to read the remaining by themselves. But he, himself, I guess, if... one would hope that he has become a fan and is, in a way, forced to read the series...
Micah: ...but he's not somebody who has read it previously. Which, I think, you don't necessarily need. It's somebody who is coming in with a fresh perspective as well.
Eric: Yeah, yeah, very much so. No, I love to see how Harry Potter continues to affect people and adults - people who are CEOs of this company, for instance. They reached out to him, and he's probably read the books, at least since that happened. And this is really cool, to see that the books are being celebrated by people who care about them. It really wouldn't be any other way, though, because there are so many people that this has affected, and there are so many people who want to see more content and want to see this happen that I'm so thrilled to read that the team is experienced, and I'm sure they're all Harry Potter fans.
Micah: Yeah. And he notes that that's what he considers to be his greatest accomplishment as CEO of Pottermore, is hiring some of the smartest people in digital publishing. And he notes also that there were some serious challenges in terms of getting the site live, which we've spoken about on this show pretty extensively...
Micah: ...and more importantly, getting it out of beta. That site was in beta for a very long time, and it was frustrating a lot of people out there who weren't in that one million group.
Eric: Mhm. Yeah, and he talked about - again, in this interview - some expansions for Pottermore, not only into new areas but also the shop. And he mentioned, actually, something interesting about feedback that he's gotten, and he said that feedback on the shop in particular has exceeded his expectations. And from the publishing industry perspective, "The Pottermore Shop -"ù this is him speaking "- is seen as something that has broken the mold and really changed publishing."ù So, that's very cool. Now, is it true... I think you can still get the e-books exclusively from the Pottermore Shop, is that correct?
Micah: Yeah, I believe so.
Eric: Okay. So, that's really cool. I think that's still pretty cool, and I like that we were sort of the first... or that Potter really did that. I think it's really cool.
Micah: Yeah. And also expanding to other languages, not only for the website but in e-book format as well. Which is important because we know the fact that this is a global phenomenon. It's a huge scope that it reaches, so for it to be available, moving forward, in multiple languages is only going to help the growth of Pottermore. And he went on to say:
"We will be seeing more content to engage with and new developments with the site [...] more books rolling out."
And he goes on to say:
"I hope we are getting faster and better at doing that. I think that some of the feedback we got on the last rollout was that it was great and people got it before Christmas and weren't [necessarily] expecting that."
And for the critics out there - which there have been many, including us at times on the show - he said that he realizes that Pottermore is not for everyone.
"But ultimately, what it was always meant to be was JK Rowling giving something back to her fans. Running a website that has so many millions of people using it for free is an immensely expensive undertaking, and I hope it does have value because it is certainly something that JK Rowling is investing a huge amount of time and money in making sure it happens. Nothing like this has ever been done before, and it is [really] a groundbreaking adventure."
So, that's something also to think about. We realize how much money JK Rowling does in fact have because we've seen stories about it over and over. But one of the things... I didn't even think of this, and in a way I feel ashamed, the fact that she is putting her own dime into this, and that all those people who are working there are being paid by her.
Eric: That's got to be so cool to see on your paycheck. [laughs]
Micah: [laughs] Signed by JK Rowling.
Eric: From JK Rowling. [laughs] But yeah, that's... it's got to be cool to work for Pottermore. I'll do an internship for Pottermore if they ask.
Micah: There you go. And then you can go to the Studio Tour.
Eric: There you go! [laughs]
Micah: As many times as you want.
Eric: It's a plan.
Andrew: We are going to continue with the news in just a moment, but first it is time to remind you that today's episode is brought to you by Audible.com, the Internet's leading provider of audiobooks with more than 100,000 downloadable titles across all types of literature and featuring audio versions of many New York Times Bestsellers. For our listeners, Audible is offering a free audiobook to give you a chance to try out their great service. One audiobook to consider is Divergent by Veronica Roth. Now, I get lots of questions... since we do this podcast and we do a couple of others, people ask us, "Well, what should I read next? What is next? What is the next big thing?" Of course, there was Twilight, there was The Hunger Games. And the next big thing, I'm going to let you in on the secret right now. Some of you know this already because it's already kind of becoming the next big thing. It is Divergent by Veronica Roth. It is a trilogy, even though only two of the three books are out right now. The third one is due out this year. The second one is called Insurgent, the first one is called Divergent. It is a dystopian novel. I actually just finished reading it the other day. You can listen to it, just like you do a podcast, for absolutely free by visiting AudiblePodcast.com/MuggleCast. Do a search for "Divergent", you will see the book there. You know, people really enjoy the book, and people do believe it's going to be the next big thing. There is a movie that they haven't started shooting yet, but they are going to start shooting soon. They actually... the studio just announced the other day that Kate Winslet is going to be in the movie. We don't know who she's going to play yet. There are some guesses, but Summit has not announced yet who she is going to play. And by the way, Shailene Woodley is going to have the lead role as Tris. This book follows a girl in the lead character slot. So again, go to AudiblePodcast.com/MuggleCast, type in "Divergent", type in "Fifty Shades of Grey", type in whatever you want. Whatever book you want to read, visit AudiblePodcast.com/MuggleCast and chances are you're going to find it. They have, like I said, over 100,000 downloadable titles and many, many, many books you are going to love listening to, just like you do this podcast, are available there on Audible. And we thank Audible for their support of the show.
Micah: Well, speaking of JK Rowling, it was announced not too long ago that Scholastic is planning to release 15th anniversary paperback covers.
Micah: And this is going to be a recurring theme, I feel like.
Eric: For all seven Harry Potter books are coming this year, I think.
Micah: Which is awesome because normally the anticipation - what we would anticipate - would have just been for Sorcerer's Stone, right?
Eric: Right, because didn't they do... they did a 10th anniversary Sorcerer's Stone - Scholastic did this - cover.
Micah: Right, and I have that.
Eric: You do have! I was going to say I don't know anybody - besides my girlfriend - that has it, but you do have it.
Micah: I do have it.
Eric: Is it him on the train platform? I forget.
Micah: Let me go to the bookshelf. [laughs]
Eric: [laughs] Micah goes to his bookshelf.
Micah: Do we have music to play during this?
Eric: Uhhh, sure. I'm sure I can find something in production.
Micah: All right, I got it. Never mind.
Eric: Oh. [laughs]
Micah: It's actually him staring into the Mirror of Erised.
Eric: Oh okay, right. Okay, sure.
Micah: But there is another drawing, I think, that was new. It's of Hagrid taking the first years across the lake to Hogwarts, and I think that was by Mary GrandPrÈ.
Eric: Is that on the back of the book, or...
Micah: It's just before the title page.
Eric: Oh, interesting!
Eric: I don't know that I knew that existed, actually.
Eric: But I do think that in that case, the 10th anniversary, I'm fairly certain that was designed by Mary GrandPrÈ. In this case both the artwork appearing in that 10th anniversary collection, but actually this time, guess what? Five years later it's a 15th anniversary collection. [laughs] And there's actually a pretty cool news story, a pretty cool interview with the artist who has been tasked with designing these new covers.
Micah: Oh, yeah?
Eric: Yeah. His name is Kazu Kibuishi, I believe. And Publishers Weekly first announced it, and they announced that Scholastic was fond of this guy's work. He's known mostly for illustrating the Amulet series of books, which I'm unfamiliar with, so I don't actually know...
Micah: So am I. I've never heard of them.
Eric: I don't know anything about it. But you know the way that books trend these days, so I'm sure that I would be able to walk into Barnes and Noble and find it. But anyway, apparently he's a big Harry Potter fan, which is also... works in our favor, I guess. And he says that at first he was hesitant to agree, once he was approached, to redesign the Harry Potter books, but... and here's a quote from him:
"Initially I didn't want to see it done because I love the original covers so much. I'm a huge fan. But after thinking about it for a while, I figured if someone were going to do it, I should try it." [laughs]
Micah: Yeah, so a true fan, like you said earlier.
Micah: Somebody who didn't want to really mess with the original. And I think the reality is that that cover of SorcererÅ's Stone by Mary GrandPrÈ, just like all the other American editions, are always going to be the originals. But the thing is, moving forward, there's obviously going to be these anniversary editions. And I would think that Mary GrandPrÈ has quite a stock in her home somewhere of all the different covers and chapters that she put together at one point or another, where she certainly has extras available. But perhaps she was just busy with other things and she didn't have time to work on yet another...
Micah: ...cover of SorcererÅ's Stone. I'm sure she's done plenty in her day and is quite ready to move on to other things.
Eric: Yeah, I'm sure that it was probably Scholastic just wanting to go a different direction. Because from what I know of the art and Mary GrandPrÈ's art, she doesn't actually own anything that she produced, Scholastic does. So she can't resell or reproduce or anything, of her previous work on the book. If they were to ask her to do something else, I'm sure she would. But I think in this case they really just wanted a different look than was with the previous books. And this actually... this discussion reminds me or prompts me to ask - maybe we'll get into a little bit of a "Favorites" segment here - but since we're talking about the covers, what's your favorite American cover of the Harry Potter books, Micah?
Micah: Favorite cover would probably have to be Prisoner of Azkaban.
Eric: Okay. Why?
Micah: There's a lot in most of her covers that really detail a lot of the scenes and characters and moments of that particular book, but I just feel if you look around that particular cover there's so much to take stock of. If that makes sense.
Eric: Yeah, so I'm looking at it right now, and it's Harry and Hermione on the Hippogriff, and I love this scene. It's obviously the breaking Sirius out of his cell scene.
Eric: Spoiler alert for Book 3.
Micah: Yeah, if you don't know that by now...
Eric: Yeah, I know, I know. But... and then Sirius Black himself appears on the cover in a shadow, or as a shadow which is totally cool.
Micah: Yeah. And if you look on the inside flap, you actually have Scabbers. The inside flap of the front cover on the bottom right hand side, you can kind of see his shadow magnified a little bit there.
Eric: Oh man, that's cool. I don't have an inside cover because I have the paperback.
Micah: Oh, okay.
Eric: So, I...
Micah: I'm talking about the... are the hardcover and paperback different?
Eric: No, I just think anything that would go over - like a flap - doesn't exist in the paperback.
Micah: Oh, okay.
Eric: Because it's not the book cover.
Micah: Well, that makes sense.
Eric: Yeah, so there are also those deluxe editions that they did a couple of years ago for the last two books where... I think Book 7 is the Antipodean Opaleye flying across the countryside.
Micah: [laughs] Right.
Eric: And I'm trying to remember what Book 6 is. I think it's...
Micah: It's outside of the Gaunt house.
Eric: Yes, yes, and...
Micah: Which is a cool one, too, by the way.
Eric: That's really cool and then, even the Book 5 one is cool. I'm fairly certain it's Grimmauld Place from the outside. And then the front cover of the book is him in the Department of Mysteries. So, it's going to be interesting to...
Micah: I think we're juggling around in different covers because the cover I actually have for Half-Blood Prince - I'm looking at it right now - is Dumbledore and Harry...
Eric: It's green.
Micah: ...inside the cave, just before...
Eric: Oh yeah, I'm talking about the deluxe edition.
Micah: Oh, the deluxe edition. Okay.
Eric: Yeah, I was talking about the deluxe covers...
Micah: But yeah, I believe that is the deluxe cover for Half-Blood Prince, is the one just outside the Gaunt home.
Eric: You're right. And that is really cool. I think I would like to own that, or a print of that, or maybe I'll just go to a used bookstore and then take the cover off the book and then frame it.
Micah: Yup. But you look around a little bit - finishing up the Prisoner of Azkaban cover here - you have Prongs on the inside back flap, and then on the back cover is the Whomping Willow, Crookshanks, what looks to be Lupin in werewolf form, and then a Dementor creepily hanging over one of the porches. Porch is not the right word, but I'm going to call it a porch for right now. [laughs]
Eric: [laughs] I just opened up the full thing. Yeah, man, this is cool. I just found this. I did a Google search for Prisoner of Azkaban US full cover...
Eric: ...and so I am able to see the... I guess, yeah, it's the Whomping Willow and Scabbers and all that. That's really cool.
Micah: Now, I just looked up Amulet by Kazu, and...
Micah: Yeah. And what's interesting is he's actually a comic book artist, it looks like. So, that... and he works for Scholastic, so that might be the tie-in there as to why they decided to bring him on. But we did actually get the cover for Sorcerer's Stone, and I was just wondering - Eric, what did you think about this cover inside Diagon Alley, Hagrid and Harry walking along? It's a little bit of a different spin from the original, and the tenth anniversary. [laughs]
Eric: Yeah, it is more comic book-y, now that you mention it. I really do like it, this new proposed cover. Whether or not I'm going to buy these books is different only because I have the [laughs] US versions and the UK versions, adult and child.
Micah: Right. Same here.
Eric: And I believe in several copies. So, I don't know at this point because they've only released the cover for the first book. And it's not even like it depends on how good the image is; I may or may not buy this book. But for new users, for new readers too, I think that this will be very fresh looking and more in touch with what they're used to seeing too. And not to say anything against the Mary GrandPrÈ version, but this Diagon Alley scene that is being portrayed in this new cover is a lot more, I think, appropriate for the first book because it's an introduction into the magical world, and when Hagrid takes Harry to Diagon Alley, that's his introduction to the magical world. Whereas on the previous US book cover, I think it's him playing Quidditch, and there are some columns or something and he's on his broom. And look, it's fine. It absolutely served its purpose. But this, I think, is more allegorical of the story inside.
Micah: Yeah. You're right, it is him trying to go for the Snitch on the cover. There's also a unicorn, a shot of Fluffy, and then on the back you have what looks like Dumbledore and an owl. And I'm sure there's a couple of other nuggets around here. There's a flying key.
Eric: Yeah, she's really good with compiling things on top of each other. Give her that credit for sure. And actually, we didn't... we covered your favorite. My favorite, I have to say though, the US Goblet of Fire is still my favorite book cover. Mostly because of what you see on the front. I never, I don't think, owned the hard cover of it so I didn't look at the flaps or the back. But on the front, I think, is still the best image because Harry is there with his wand, he's smiling, you see Cedric and the other two champions Victor and Fleur. And he's got his pot of gold, or actually... I always thought it was a pot of gold, his Triwizard winnings, but actually it's a golden egg, now that I'm looking at it.
Eric: Wow. I never got that. I just think this is the best drawing of Harry.
Micah: And a lot of different creatures.
Eric: The look of joy. Yeah, the look of joy is on his face. And in the back, which I've also pulled the back cover, you see a dragon actually - the Hungarian Horntail, I presume - is the entire length of the cover. Maybe is that... what do you think is in the lower left, Micah, besides the dragon? There's... I think you see its eye and it has two antenna, I want to say. [laughs] Do you see what I'm talking about?
Micah: Yeah, I wonder if they worked in some of the Care of Magical Creatures into this cover.
Micah: Just because there seems to be a lot of weird looking creatures on this cover.
Eric: Yeah. And then... oh, Madame Maxime's carriage in the back being towed by the horse. Or the horses towing it.
Eric: And of course the Goblet itself. Of Fire.
Micah: Which looks like it's being put through the brush there by fake Moody, I would guess. It has... or is it perhaps...
Micah: No, hold on. I think that's Harry's outstretched arm grabbing the cup. That's what it is. He's reach... yeah, yeah.
Eric: Oh, you think so?
Micah: If you look, his arm actually goes over the spine and through the bush and grabs the cup.
Eric: Oh, but that's... I think that's Victor Krum. Victor Krum's arm. You know what I'm saying?
Micah: All right. Well...
Eric: Maybe it's Moody. Maybe that's Moody.
Micah: Maybe it is. We don't mean to get into too much analysis here, but...
Eric: Yeah sorry, I can't believe it's Episode 262...
Micah: I don't think we've ever broken down the covers on the show.
Eric: It's Episode 262, and we haven't talked about that.
[Eric and Micah laugh]
Eric: I mean... well, no, I think we'll always find stuff to talk about, by the way. But we did talk about Book 7 when that was released, obviously, because that was huge.
Micah: Yeah, absolutely.
Eric: But yeah, in terms of the other covers, I guess I never realized how intricate this stuff was. But yeah, I'm excited to see the upcoming book covers. And the thing is, I'm glad they're releasing them all at once. They only previewed the first book, but the fact that all the books on the shelves of Harry Potter are going to be seen new is refreshing because otherwise we'd have to wait a year until the next one, a year until the next one, a year until the next one, then three years, then two years. And it would be like, oh come on already. But yeah, they're celebrating fifteen years of Potter. It's pretty cool.
Micah: And we did ask on Twitter what people would like to see these fifteenth anniversary covers look like for the different books. Obviously we've seen Sorcerer's Stone, Eric, as you pointed out, but we did get some responses. itsnotnostalgic - that's a cool Twitter name - said:
"For 'Order of the Phoenix'..."
"...it should definitely be Harry and company flying to the Ministry to 'save' Sirius."
Eric: Hmm, okay.
Micah: Energezer1 said:
"I'd love to see a shot of the Weasleys' joke shop on Book 6. Maybe even the vanishing cabinet!"
Eric: [laughs] How can you see a vanishing cabinet?
Micah: I was going to say that. WonderousWatson:
"I would love to see Harry and Ron crashing into the barrier for 'Chamber of Secrets'."
That would be a cool cover.
Eric: That would be epic. [laughs]
Micah: AmityHufflepuff says:
"Hmm... maybe the Yule Ball for 'Goblet of Fire'. I wish I could have gone to it."
"Harry fighting the basilisk, it would bring in new readers. Who wouldn't buy a book that had a twelve year old fighting a huge snake?"
Eric: Hmm. That's a good question. Who indeed? Who indeed would not?
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