The literato's Pirate Bay, Wattpad, has reached the iPhone and iPod Touch, offering community scribblings and copyrighted material through an Apple-sanctioned client.
While iPhone owners who want to pay for electronic reading material can install Amazon's Kindle service or the Stanza, those who prefer to avoid paying for books can now install Wattpad and enjoy a plethora of content for free.
Wattpad has been around for a while; intended as a client for downloading, managing and displaying user-generated content, it built up a following based on hosting copyrighted works including the Harry Potter series and most of the works of Terry Pratchett. The company hides behind safe-harbour rules, promising to remove content as soon as notified by the owners, who obviously have nothing better to do than spend their lives trawling the internet for illegal copies of their property.
Wattpad describes itself as having a "You-Tube-like community"; true in that said community is packed with people who either fail to understand what copyright is, or have no respect for it. The remainder appear to spend their time writing vampiric love stories, which makes watching videos of dancing cats seem quite sensible.
To be fair to Wattpad, the company's database of content is much less copyrighted these days, bulked out by free stuff from the Gutenberg Press. Pratchett's work has all but disappeared, and only a few Harry Potter titles are still available, but anyone interested in pilfering from the estates of Asimov, Clarke or Aldiss will be well rewarded.
The iPhone has managed to make many unlikely things mainstream - two-handed phone use, applications to make farting noises and screens that spin the text round when you try to lie down and read them in bed, to name just three - reading books on a screen may be a step too far for the majority. Still, with such a range of applications available, it won't be lack of availability that stops iPhone users turning to electronic books. ®