Wattpad- Free eBooks

Wattpad is the “World’s most popular eBook community” having more than 100,000 books. They have a website as well but in the spotlight today is Wattpad on the WP7.

Review

Wattpad is a dream come true. Everybody has their own favourite activity that they do when they have some time on their hands. Reading happens to be mine. Before I had the WP7, I was carrying around paperbacks that weighed me down and I was usually restricted to the collection of the library. With the WP7, you can imagine my happiness when I discovered Wattpad, and with it, all the reading material I would hope for and a community of readers and writers to boot.

Reading is my love and to start out, while I was excited to find available books for free, I was not too sure about the idea. I like my paperbacks, no matter that they weighed me down. I like the whole experience of holding a book and flipping through it- much like a connoisseur of books or the experience of reading so it is fair to say that I was skeptical about the WP7 and Wattpad stepping up to my high expectations… Fast-forward two weeks and I am still faithfully reading two stories concurrently, anxiously waiting for one story to update and on the hunt for the next book to read.

So, what is the deal about Wattpad?

Obviously, it has a huge library of ebooks with books, novels, fan fiction, short stories and poems amounting to more than 100,000. The catch is that they cannot be found elsewhere or any other devices. All of these ebooks are originals and filed under clear categories such as Romance, Fantasy, Teen Fiction, Adventure, What’s Hot, Undiscovered Gems and many more. All stories come with blurbs and author’s profiles (if they are available) and are easily downloaded onto the bookshelf with a tap. When I first started using this app, I went with the popular votes and easily picked out a couple of books. It really allows you to try out different genres and authors by making it painfully easy. However, precisely because all these writers publish their books directly, the standard of English is not guaranteed and could potentially be a deterrence to readers. It is really frustrating reading a book containing simple grammar mistakes or worse still, spelling mistakes. However, I have managed to find ebooks that are well written, without too much effort.

A noteworthy feature of Wattpad is that the font appearance, controls,layouts are fully customizable. This gives me absolute control over a huge percentage of my reading experience. Black background with white fonts or vice versa? It is entirely up to you. For those readers out there who are accustomed to reading physical books and are able to guess what genre a book belongs to with just a look at a random page in the book would understand how big a deal this is. For the rest of you, it is a matter of aesthetics. I do have a problem with the numerous options though. With so many options, I get confused. It really is a matter of striking the right balance between what should be and what should not be customizable because certain things such as being able to customise the size of the bookshelf is really trivial.

Thirdly, the reading mechanics is surprisingly user friendly. Flipping back and forth just requires a touch at the left or top and right or bottom edge of the screen respectively. Loading is smooth so scrolling while reading is comfortable. Wattpad also loads back to the exact page where you left off, working just as well as a bookmark. Annotation is also available so you are able to jot down ideas as you are reading, but take note that any annotation only gets affixed to the first word on that particular page and cannot be switched around.

Finally, what I really like about this app is the ability for me to choose my level of involvement. I can be a passive user and just download books to read or I can also choose to be more involved and engage with the community, signing up as a user, leaving comments for books that I have read, vote for them or even recommend them to a friend via various platforms, including Facebook and email. It affords me so many actions within the app, I feel as though my phone has been transformed into a specialised Wattpad device. This ability gives the app depth and makes it multi-dimensional which is a refreshing change, and showcasing the level of sophistication wp7 apps can achieve.

Recommendations
There are some hiccups along the way that I encountered while using Wattpad and here are some suggestions that I have.

  • Fine tune the customised controls
  • Needs to show any updates to books on bookshelf
  • Possibly incorporate automatic scrolling for wp7 for enhanced reading experience
  • Increasing functionalities while reading the book and not restricting it to just the main screen

Verdict

As with all things free, there are definitely some shortcomings but I see great potential in this app and I will continue to read from Wattpad.

Wattpad is also available on iPhone, iPod, BlackBerry, Sony and other mobile devices.  Get it now for your WP7 device from the Marketplace.

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Joyce Lim

Joyce developed a keen interest in the tech world while pursuing her degree in Communications and New Media at NUS. She is fascinated with social media and the perceptions of people towards converging technologies, especially with respect to mobile media. Her spare time is spent embarking on adventures in both the real and fictional worlds. She was also a Relief Teacher at Temasek Secondary School.

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