Wattpad provides alternative to traditional reading materials

Angelique Robinson, Web Master

Wattpad is a free website and app that allows readers to add books to their libraries with no limit as to how long it can be there, similar to the concept of Netflix. Users can also create different reading lists, post messages on their profile, vote on book chapters and comment throughout stories. Users may also upload their own works to the platform in hopes of gaining an audience.

Wattpad was officially launched in October of 2006. The website and app were launched by the co-founders Allen Lau and Ivan Yuen. The idea was originally thought of by Lau but both believed that having an app where people had access to novels was key. The app is available for iOS devices as well as Androids.

The website began as a place for public domain novels like Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen but soon expanded to be much more. Users are allowed to publish almost anything in their books and this lead to a very popular genre: fanfiction.

Fanfiction caused Wattpad’s popularity to rise in teens and young adults because they could read romances about their favorite celebrities in a variety of circumstances. While fanfiction is still a popular genre on the site, other categories have risen to popularity. Most of the popular genres on Wattpad are a variations of romance. They range from high school romances to complex, middle age relationships.

The variety in the novels uploaded allows Wattpad to please a diverse of age groups and ethnicities. There are people as young as 10 years-old to about as old as 45 years-old on the website. Women are much more frequent users of the site but that does not mean there are no male users, they are just rare. When a male comments, the replies tend to emphasize how rare the occurance is.

The comments are truly what set Wattpad apart from some other reading services. The comments allow readers to become more engaged with a text because they can see how other people reacted or are reacting to the same passages. Readers can reply to comments to share their own opinion/experience or expand on what was stated. Comments allow readers to find people who are going through similar experiences in their real lives. They also allow people to make jokes or appreciate pop-culture references within stories.

Wattpad has a much wider impact on culture than many people realize. Many Wattpad books get published and put on bookstore shelves. Some books become so popular that even after publishing they can become movies. Popular examples are The Kissing Booth by Beth Reekles and After by Anna Todd. Wattpad provides a starting place for young and aspiring authors.

Many of the novels that get published from Wattpad are altered from their original version in order for them to stay free on Wattpad. For example, Todd’s After series originated on Wattpad as a One Direction fanfiction in which the main love interest was Harry Styles. Once published the male main character’s name was changed to Hardin Scott. The additional members of the band, featured in the stories also received rewritten names, as well as a slightly altered text.

Stories on Wattpad may support serious issues or may be parts of sponsored contests to promote specific products. Specific tags and categories are attached to these stories. There are many novels that support the anti-bullying campaigns popularized during the Obama administration. One of the most popular books for this issue is The Good Girl’s Bad Boys: The Good, The Bad and The Bullied by user RibixCube89201. There are also suicide awareness as well as an entire genre for LGBTQ+ books.

While Wattpad did introduce paid stories in early 2019, users do not pay to create an account and many novels are still free. Some stories do contain ads about every 20 minutes after a chapter was completed.

Wattpad has expanded beyond the single app and website. In February of 2017 Wattpad sponsored their new app Tap. This app allows readers to read stories as though they were reading text chains. Unlike Wattpad, Tap is only available as an app.

Overall Wattpad is an easy alternative for people who do not have the time or ability to access a public library. This also aids individuals who cannot afford to buy books to keep long-term.