Amazon Rapids: new stories via text service

Amazon Rapids: new stories via text service

I always like to see Amazon innovating, and they’ve just introduced something truly new and different. It’s called

Amazon Rapids (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Basically, you subscribe to a service for kids. The kids can choose from hundreds of stories.

The innovative part of the stories? They are told as if they are text messages (including pictures).

I’ve tested it (you can get a free two-week trial). It’s sort of intriguing, and I can see how it could be really addictive for younger kids.

You pick the story…it’s a conversation between two people (I’ve tried a few, and it’s all been two). It unfolds just like a text message on your phone. One message comes in from your left. A response comes in from your right. There are avatars, showing you the speaker.

There are a few nice touches.

  • You can have it read out loud
  • You can look up words by “long pressing” on them (holding a finger or stylus on a word for about a second). The word will be defined and can be spoken. The word definitions are automatically stored for you in a glossary, so you can review them
  • You can get it at Amazon, Google Play, or the Amazon Appstore…and then use it all types of compatible devices (you don’t need to get  a different app for each type of device)

Before I go further, I’m going to say that I would not get it (if it wasn’t for testing it for you), and I’m going to cancel my subscription during the two week period (after I finish writing this post…with a period of time for you to ask questions). Why? I could not complete free registration without indicating a gender for my “child”. I find that unacceptable…there are only two reasons to ask that in this situation. One is because you are going to target the stories for certain genders. Many stores, even major stores, have stopped doing that with toy aisles…labeling them for boys or girls. If you say your child is a boy, they will, at the least, have some stories de-emphasized for them, if not made unavailable altogether. The other one would be to be able to market you to advertisers in some way. Neither of those is okay with me.

Hopefully, they will drop that requirement. They also made me state an age for the child, out of  number of options.

That might just be me, though.🙂

If you decide to pay for a subscription, what does it cost?

$2.99 per month on a month to month basis, $29.99 for a year (meaning you save about fifty cents per month. The yearly one automatically renews).

The stories I read were reasonably well-written…kind of amusing.

I do want to say that this is a modern version of a style of writing referred to as epistolary, which may be reading letters by characters, or might include other documents (like, say, a contract) in a novel. One of my favorites is

The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis (at AmazonSmile)

Quite funny, although unabashedly religious.

My feeling is that there will be kids and families which absolutely love Amazon Rapids…but I have a hard time seeing it as being a bit hit. It seems too expensive to me.

One other thing: I’m not seeing how you might be able write stories for it. I’ve seen a mention about Amazon looking for new “talented” authors, but I’m not seeing yet where you would actually submit a story (if that’s how it works…Ill ask Amazon and update this post).

Note that this is an app: it is not available for Kindle EBRs (E-Book Readers), but is available for Apple devices, Android phones, and Fire devices (of recent software generations)

For more information, see

Amazon Rapids Help Page (at AmazonSmile*)

What do you think? If you’ve tried it, what’s you opinion? Do you have other epistolary novels you would recommend? These are more like epistolary short stories.😉 Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.

Bonus note: ILMK recently suffered a “blogjam” (as I call it), where it wasn’t be delivered to subscribers. That has happened before: I don’t know what causes it, and I don’t know what fixes it. When readers are kind enough to let me know, I let Amazon know…this time, it was down for about a week (it’s fixed now). I don’t publish every day, but if it goes a few days and you haven’t gotten one, or you notice that I’ve published posts to the web and you aren’t getting them on your EBR, I really appreciate you letting me know. I do pay to subscribe to the blog myself, but I don’t check it on my Voyage or Paperwhite regularly, so I may not notice right away. Thanks to Karen, Lady Galaxy, and Debbie for letting me know this time!

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Do you have what it takes to be a Timeblazer?

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

3 Responses to “Amazon Rapids: new stories via text service”

  1. Phink Says:

    This sounds interesting. Myself I’d be concerned it’d make kids want to get a smart phone and text even more. I’d be afraid it’d make them think “this is fun but it’d be better if Sandra were texting me instead.” That is just a theory and nothing more. Perhaps that would not happen. Of course I do like things that get kids interested in reading so I’m torn.

    I also decided a few months ago that it seems everything is going to a subscription service. Even Microsoft wants Office to be something you pay for annually or monthly. It’s the same with the electronic cookbook I have used for a few years. They are now charging a subscription service IF you want all the features you were promised when you bought the software and that were free when the software was purchased.

    It’s gotten to be so much stuff on a subscription service that I have taken a serous look at the few things I pay a subscription for. I guess you’ve heard the phrase “you can nickle and dime yourself into the poor house.” I could easily be spending close to $100 a month or possibly more for subscriptions if I got everything I’m interested in. To each his own of course but for me the word “subscription” is a word with negative connotations these days. I hear that word and immediately think “I don’t think I want that.” Just my thoughts.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Phink!

      On your text messaging concern, I’d have to questions. First, would it encourage texting? Second, would that be a bad thing?

      I doubt that many people using Amazon Rapids wouldn’t already be texting. I’m just not sure that it would appeal to guardians who don’t already have texting as part of their children’s lives (except, perhaps for younger siblings of texting kids). I took a quick look for statistics, and I would guess the majority of teenagers in the USA already text.

      As to whether it would be a good thing or a bad thing…my intuition is that kids who text more read books more. I remember seeing a study years ago (from the UK, I believe) that kids who texted more were better spellers. That makes sense to me: visually processing written language, whether in short interrogatory bursts or longer form, seems like a continuum to me. If texting replaces face-to-face interaction or reading books, that could certainly be a bad thing. If it supplements it, increasing communication, that seems like a good thing.🙂

      On subscriptions…

      I have subscribed to Microsoft Office for some time now, and prefer that. Paying for access rather than ownership certainly seems to be way of the future (not for everything, but culturally for many things). Part of the calculus for that has to be cost of maintaining your purchase, and how often you have to purchase again. I will probably pay more over time for my Office subscription. However, it is constantly updated without me having to buy (and install and register) Office again when an upgrade is released. Even if I just paid for the upgrade, that was still an expense. I don’t have to find my discs when I want to put it on a new device, I just log into the account. I don’t have to store my discs…remember that you pay for rent, or property tax and/or mortgage for the space under those discs.

      Pro-rate the cost of your periodic purchases in considering if subscription services make sense for you. My other thought is that when you are committed to a company through a subscription, they are more committed to you as a customer. If you pay $100 and are out, they don’t have to keep you as happy as they do if you can walk away each month?

      Whether it’s using Uber, Netflix, or Prime Reading, it’s a lot of things going in that direction…

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Phink!

      On your text messaging concern, I’d have to questions. First, would it encourage texting? Second, would that be a bad thing?

      I doubt that many people using Amazon Rapids wouldn’t already be texting. I’m just not sure that it would appeal to guardians who don’t already have texting as part of their children’s lives (except, perhaps for younger siblings of texting kids). I took a quick look for statistics, and I would guess the majority of teenagers in the USA already text.

      As to whether it would be a good thing or a bad thing…my intuition is that kids who text more read books more. I remember seeing a study years ago (from the UK, I believe) that kids who texted more were better spellers. That makes sense to me: visually processing written language, whether in short interrogatory bursts or longer form, seems like a continuum to me. If texting replaces face-to-face interaction or reading books, that could certainly be a bad thing. If it supplements it, increasing communication, that seems like a good thing.🙂

      On subscriptions…

      I have subscribed to Microsoft Office for some time now, and prefer that. Paying for access rather than ownership certainly seems to be way of the future (not for everything, but culturally for many things). Part of the calculus for that has to be cost of maintaining your purchase, and how often you have to purchase again. I will probably pay more over time for my Office subscription. However, it is constantly updated without me having to buy (and install and register) Office again when an upgrade is released. Even if I just paid for the upgrade, that was still an expense. I don’t have to find my discs when I want to put it on a new device, I just log into the account. I don’t have to store my discs…remember that you pay for rent, or property tax and/or mortgage for the space under those discs.

      Pro-rate the cost of your periodic purchases in considering if subscription services make sense for you. My other thought is that when you are committed to a company through a subscription, they are more committed to you as a customer. If you pay $100 and are out, they don’t have to keep you as happy as they do if you can walk away each month?

      Whether it’s using Uber, Netflix, or Prime Reading, it’s a lot of things going in that direction…

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