Chat-style reading apps take off

Despite the many forms of media vying for young people’s attention, Gens Y and Z are still very passionate about reading. Per The Entertainers, 81% of Trendsetters consider books vital to their lives, which is higher than the percentage who feel the same about social media (77%) or streaming video (72%). Increasingly, reading material is being delivered in new ways, such as via chat-style apps, to better reflect youth’s mobile-first lives.


Older generations often worry that reading is losing relevancy among younger generations, but the popularity of Hooked suggests otherwise. The company delivers stories via text message, with most taking about six minutes to read. Professional authors and users alike submit stories that must be told as a conversation between characters in text message form. Users select a book from the app’s many genres to start receiving excerpts until they’re hooked. They’re then prompted to buy the paid version to see the rest of the story and other tales. Hooked has been downloaded more than 20 million times, with 69% of readers under the age of 25.


Earlier this year, social publishing platform Wattpad debuted Tap, an app for reading chat-style short stories. As young generations are accustomed to reading and writing in this manner when communicating with friends, the company sought to let them consume narratives in this format in order to encourage more youth to contribute and be avid readers. Stories are designed to feel like one is reading someone else’s chat conversations; they’re visually presented as texts and unfold as users tap to reveal more. Hundreds of stories are available across genres, including horror, romance, and drama. While the app is free, users can upgrade to obtain unlimited access, with some stories exclusively available for subscribers.


Amazon is also contributing to the chat-style reading trend with its app Rapidsdesigned to help kids aged 7-12 enjoy reading. Like similar apps, Rapids boasts hundreds of stories across categories, including adventure, humor, and sports. Each is told via text message between characters, and readers can interact with the dialogue by clicking on the next chat bubble in the story’s sequence. The app even guides kids in sounding out difficult words to help them improve their reading skills and vocabulary, and some chat bubbles ask questions to boost comprehension and entertain users. Like Tap, Rapids offers unlimited access to stories for a monthly fee.