On "Obooko.com" Readers Download E-Books Legally, for Free

Obooko.com allows readers to download books for free - peoplewhowriteStarting May 1, 2013, The Bookseller reports, readers can download ebooks for free on Obooko.com.  Copy on the site explains: “While many established authors create free ebooks to complement their print sales, more new writers are distributing their work free of charge on ebook download sites like obooko as a first step towards traditional publishing.” The site also gives writers a list of reasons why they should be interested in submitting their work for free download, one of them being, they don’t have to pay any self-publishing costs.

I’m skeptical of the benefit. At present, writers can already make their works available for free digital download; why do it through Obooko? Perhaps the main benefit is the site will likely be working to establish a community on their own and driving clicks to the site through advertising and publicity efforts. If that’s the only plus, writers are better off going through tested sites like Wattpad which spawned the career — and Random House book deal — of teen author Beth Reeks.



If You’re Not Already On It, Check Out Online Writing Community Wattpad.com

In the last few years, a plethora of online author platforms and communities have cropped up trying to harness the digital world’s capabilities for authors. In the last few months, specifically, the press releases have been flying.

Children’s book publisher Macmillan recently announced a new crowdsource imprint called Swoon Reads which will allow authors to submit their work directly to the publisher, rate other authors’ work, weigh in on cover design, and the like. Writer Erik Bowman recently launched Authr.com, a fundraising platform along the lines of crowdsource funding site Kickstarter.com. Then, last week, Canadian start-up Wattpad.com was in the news as Random House announced they would publish 17-year-old Beth Reeks’ novel after her story garnered 19 million reads on Wattpad.

Like many online communities for aspiring writers, Wattpad allows authors to submit their work to a digital jury of peers, readers, and apparently, publishers for the ever precious feedback. Launched in 2006 by Allen Lau and Ivan Yuen, Wattpad has been criticized for facilitating book piracy, while others like veteran author Margaret Atwood are lending their clout to the service.

It’s not clear whether Atwood is an official spokesperson for Wattpad, an organic advocate, or both, so take her endorsement as you will. What’s most intriguing is that, as these sites continue to crop up, they’ll have to offer authors a better, stronger experience to survive. As you contemplate which of these services to invest your time in — and share your writing on — it’s encouraging that Wattpad in particular is still standing six years after its founding.