The Internet is a global phenomenon, yet we typically see it through our own limited nationalistic or cultural perspective. For many in North America, that means the Internet is in English, delivering media and services produced by and for North Americans. But a Toronto-based serial entrepreneur believes that publishing must open up to languages and communities of all sizes – and that the way to do this is to return to the ancient art of storytelling.
“We think that Wattpad is enabling a return to true storytelling,” says co-founder Allen Lau in a recent essay. “It’s organic, it’s intimate and what we’re seeing is exactly the kind of story sharing that has always been innate in human beings since ancient tribes gathered around campfires and scribbled on cave walls.”
As Lau tells CCC’s Chris Kenneally, Wattpad is the “You Tube” of stories – a new form of entertainment that combines mobile, social and reading. To date, Wattpad has published 18 million stories; every month, more than 15 million users spend 3.5 billion minutes reading on the Wattpad platform every month. In Africa alone, where readers are starved for books and few publishing companies thrive, Wattpad has published 4000 stories – last month.
“By re-imagining the whole publishing/reading ecosystem from a truly digital-native perspective we know we are expanding access to both readers and writers,” Lau writes in Publishing Perspectives. “We are also proud that more and more of these stories are coming from mobile devices in developing countries.”