As a former librarian I am always interested in other people's reading habits: how they choose what to read, when they do it, and, most importantly, how they read.
The how is important because readers have so many options these days. Traditional book? Audiobook? E-book? If the content was downloaded, did the reader purchase it from a retailer? Borrow it from a library? All of this is endlessly fascinating to me, so I was excited to learn about Wattpad.
Wattpad is a free social reading and writing app. It's available on your phone, tablet and computer, so literally where ever you are, you'll have access to a library of stories. But aside from the accessibility, the best thing about Wattpad is the direct link it creates between readers and writers. Readers can share plot suggestions via the comments section, or create original art and music to go along with the story. If you've ever been annoyed by how an author introduced a plot twist or longed to create a soundtrack to go along with your favorite book, you'll understand the appeal.
Wattpad is a huge community-- over 40 million people around the world. So it's no surprise that a story originally published on Wattpad has taken on a life of its own.
Last spring, 25-year-old Anna Todd used Wattpad to pen a sprawling love story called After. Anna is a huge fan of One Direction, and the story's love interest, Hardin Scott, is inspired by Harry Styles. The saga follows the on-again, off-again relationship between the dark, troubled (and British!) Hardin and Tessa Young, an optimistic freshman at Washington State University. (I think those two sentences alone tell you that this story would be crazy popular with a certain demographic.)
Anna wrote After entirely on her phone, adding a new installment every few days as she went about her daily life. The story eventually grew to over 2,500 pages, gathered more than 6 million comments, and has been viewed more than a billion times. With stats like that, After caught the attention of Simon & Schuster, who turned the story in a four-book series. The first installment is on sale now, at Barnes & Noble and also on your e-reader. Paramount Pictures acquired the film rights, so there's even a chance the story could be coming to life on the big screen, too. Anna's non-traditional path to publication has been written about in The New York Times and USA Today.
Even if One Direction fanfic isn't your thing, Wattpad is a great way to access reading material on your phone or tablet. The site is free, and more than 24 hours of reading material is posted every minute (you'll never be without something to read ever again).