The prospects of Wattpad: Virtual library of the future or a publisher’s submission site?




The popularization of the internet has enabled the creation of a number of online publishing outlets. Peer-to-peer platforms allow readers and writers to interact with each other, seemingly eliminating the need for traditional gatekeepers in the form of the editor and publisher. These platforms, however, have been credited with the disturbance of the publishing ecosystem. One popular peer-to-peer site is Wattpad. Conversely, as discussed in this paper, the creators of Wattpad do not want to disrupt the traditional publishing infrastructure but become a part of it. The study analyzes the values incorporated in the design of Wattpad’s website and the mobile app through utilizing the walk-through method of data collection. The researcher outlines how a writer-user and reader-user could potentially be prompted to utilize the platform by analyzing the vision, operating model, and governance of the platform. The study discusses that there are hierarchies at play with the writer-user valued to a greater extent as an individual than the reader-user who is seen by the company as a currency that can be bought and sold. The paper concludes that Wattpad does not want to disrupt the publishing ecosystem because the values incorporated in the design of the platform are similar to the values of traditional publishers.

Keywords: publishing industry, self-publishing, online publishing, Wattpad, peer-to-peer platforms, values in design, online users