In a world where publishing has always been driven by a few big firms that decide what will see the light of day and what will remain forever in obscurity, times are changing and one small Canadian free book publisher may be the torch to light the way for millions of aspiring authors.
Wattpad was started with the goal of letting writers share and exchange stories as well as letting readers enjoy their efforts and offer feedback. Taking full advantage of the incredible power of the Internet to reach the world, Wattpad now has 1 million registered users and well over 2 million stories with thousands added daily, all accessible through a cloud-based platform for computer, mobile device and eReader connectivity.
The name comes from a simple idea: watt refers to electric power and pad to suggest a book. The company, which hails from the beautiful city of Toronto, Canada, is causing quite a stir in the publishing industry with disintermediation, as they are calling it. A rather complicated sounding term that is actually just another way of saying that they have removed the middleman from the equation. This allows authors a direct path to readers with no roadblocks as was the case in the past with the traditional publishing industry. It is a bold step in the ever evolving world of social media.
One New York based venture capital firm has taken a keen interest in the idea of disintermediation in general, and Wattpad in particular. That firm is Union Square Ventures. They have previously backed a number of other out of the box technology ideas such as social media giant Twitter, leading social game developer Zynga and others. This time they have teamed up with Toronto venture capital firms Golden Venture Partners and W Media Ventures to invest $3.5 million into Wattpad.
Much more than just a vehicle for reader feedback, it also offers an outlet for writers to enjoy interactive dialogue with a large audience, something that was previously limited to a small group of friends, editors and close associates or based on book sales and reviews. Readers also have the option to request topical writing from their favorite authors. It was this interactivity that caught the attention of Albert Wenger, a partner and member of the Union Square Ventures team.
While an author can use a blog or website to share their work, the medium is not ideal for sharing with a large audience. The community at Wattpad offers an outlet for the author to reach a very large audience and a platform designed specifically for storytelling. The user community spent around 2 billion minutes on the site last quarter, reading and writing almost 750,000 new stories. Along with text, writers can also add video or images as well as engage in conversations with other writers and their readers.
People who love to read, aspiring authors and those with a passion for the technical side of things are encouraged to visit WattPad.com and discover the new face of social media.