There are two types of people in this world: those who like to read and those who don’t. I can assure you I belong to the former group. A lot of my friends don’t get why I’m so interested in reading books which to them seems like a waste of effort and time. They are movie freaks and insist that nothing beats watching something on a full 50″ high definition HDTV with surround sound. I always tell them that its not really something that can be explained by mere words. In my opinion, reading is an experience in of itself and while it is possible for someone to use words to describe that experience, its not until you go through it yourself that you’ll truly understand it. I love reading so much, I’ve actually created my second blog at AnotherBookReview dedicated to reviewing books I’ve just completed. Just recently, I was actually stuck at deciding what book to read next. Of course, there are no shortages of new books but I kind of grew tired to buying books from big name authors. When people tell me to just look at the New York Times Best Seller list for ideas, I literally laugh because many of the books that make that list are not exactly my type and truth be told, many of them aren’t that good to begin with. What was I to do?
It took me a while but I’ve decided to do something I haven’t really done before: I’ve decided to forgo the “famous” author route and dive into the independent and amateurs writer pool instead. It’s fun reading grand and well thought out stories written by professionals who’ve had a lot of life experience along with a hard earned degree in literature (or whatever it takes to publish a successful book) but I wanted to see how amateur writers fare in comparison. A good idea for a story isn’t just limited to professionals but to anyone with a creative mind and who aren’t afraid to compose a story out of it. One of my New Year’s resolution of 2012 is to not be afraid of trying new things. While I would hardly label reading short stories composed by mere individuals such as myself “daring” or “adventurous”, it is something of a new experience for me nonetheless.
At first, due to me reading a lot of eBooks on my iPhone, I’ve decided to give iBooks a try. It’s free, from Apple, and promises a ton of free eBooks to read. What can go wrong? For one, browsing for free books on the app is horrendous. From my quick time with the app, I’ve concluded that it was only possible to browse for free books by author. That’s right. Not by genre but by author. While there are a ton of authors and free books in general for me to browse through, it makes for a horrible experience as when picking the next book to read, a reader usually picks one from a category of their choosing (horror, mystery, thriller, fantasy, etc). To add salt to the wound, the entire app would crash upon startup after I’ve chosen to download my first free eBook! It was therefore not possible for me to even remedy the situation as it would crash immediately. It could be that my iPhone is jailbroken but at this point, I didn’t care and decided to go for a different route instead.
After a quick browse in the Books section within the App store, I came across a free app called Wattpad. OK, so I admit that the app’s icon is what attracted me first but it turned out to be one heck of a decision! Wattpad is very simple in nature. It allows you to download and read stories composed and uploaded by individuals such as you and I. As you can see, it doesn’t get more amateurish than this! But that’s the beauty of this app because through my quick browsing of the books available, it feels like I’ve discovered a hidden gem. There are so many books available, it will make your head spin. Luckily, unlike iBooks, you can easily browse books by categories! Horray! Put simply, think of Wattpad as the Youtube for user-generated eBooks instead of videos.If you prefer to read books on your computer instead, then simply head over to Wattpad’s website. Here, you can read eBooks right in your browser without having to download anything! You can download Wattpad for the iPhone/iPad from here. Wattpad is also available for a number of mobile devices. You can view the supported platforms here.
The books are broken up via “parts”, which you can just refer to them as chapters. Each part consists of 1-6 pages. However, don’t be deceived by that number. I’m not sure what constitutes as a full page but a page inside a eBook in Wattpad is definitely longer than a single page of a physical book. You have three ways of reading your eBook. First, you can manually scroll downwards for each “part” of the book. The scrolling continues all the way until the end of the part where it will then stop. To proceed to the next part/chapter of the book, you need to single tap the right edge of your screen. Secondly, you can choose to read your eBook via the traditional method of turning page by page. This is accomplished by single tapping the right edge of your screen to advance to the next page. To head back to the previous page, you tap the left side of the screen. The third and most fun way to read your book is to let Wattpad automatically scroll through the page for you! When you activate this feature, your screen will continuously scroll downwards. You can of course choose the scroll rate.
Luckily, there are some important configurations you can tweak to help improve your reading experience. For example, you can set the font, font size, text color and background and most important of all, toggling between normal and night mode.
In the End…
While it’s silly to compare stories written by amateurs and unknown individuals to well established authors who make a six figure income, sometimes everyone needs a breath of fresh air. Even popular authors begin to show their decline in writing after a while. This can be especially true for those who’ve earned their first big paycheck after publishing a well received book. In fact, this can be said for many other things as well, such as sports. There’s a reason why some choose to watch college basketball and football instead of the professional leagues. Many believe the amateurs, who have a lot more to prove, will play a lot harder than those who have already made it to the big boys league.
Right now, my very first book downloaded on Wattpad is called “A Touch of Poison” and it’s turning out to be pretty good! While browsing, I’ve come across many eBooks that were very long in length (lots of chapters) while some that were much shorter. Also, please do keep in mind that because eBooks uploaded to Wattpad were created by mere mortals who didn’t have the money nor the need to send their eBook to be reviewed by an editor, don’t be shocked to find spelling and grammar errors. In their defense however, many readers commonly find these same type of errors even in well published books!
I’ll repeat myself here in that Wattpad is a serious breath of fresh air. Just like with so many other things that you can get addicted to, reading is one of them. After spending so much money on books recently, I’ve decided to slow things down a bit. While some might wonder why not just browse for public domain or free Kindle books via Amazon, which there are no shortage of, its rather fun to see how creative other people can be when no money or promotion is at stake.