Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Could Wattpad be the Greatest University of Writing Ever?

As well as being a showcase for indie books, could http://www.wattpad.com/ be the greatest University of Writing ever?

The site is designed to be a sort of YouTube for authors, a glorious, great, free bookstore in the sky, but it seems to me that it could be providing something else even more important than that.

Anyone can put their writings up there and anyone can read them. The books tend to go up one chapter at a time and some of them are read by millions – literally – mainly on phones and other mobile devices. Wandering around this campus in the clouds it is obvious that the majority of participants are young adults, with the odd greybeard amongst them. Millions of young people writing and reading; dispelling the fears of all those Jobs prophesising the death of the written word.

Readers leave comments, just like on YouTube, and the tone seems to be almost uniformly positive and encouraging, like a giant, friendly, creative writing group.

This is a campus filled with enthusiasts for the written word, potentially every English-speaking person in the world who wants to read stories and all those who want to write them, brought together in one place. How brilliant is that?

The books are divided into categories, with genres like romance, fantasy, historical fiction and science fiction receive the most attention, just like in any earthly bookstore. There are also some very useful texts on how to write, (the equivalent of lectures and seminarsif this analogy can be stretched a little further).

The Wattpad people single out the odd book to be “featured”, which is a bit like having your book put on the front table at Waterstones, but apart from that everyone seems to be equal, distinguished only by the number of readers their work has attracted.

Could this be a rather cheery glimpse into the future of books and reading?

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