Amazon Rapids Service Launched
An employee demonstrates the new Kindle Fire HD 8.9" at Amazon's Kindle Fire event in Santa Monica, California, Sept. 6, 2012. REUTERS/Gus Ruelas

Amazon started out as reading focused company and despite diversifying into e-commerce, the company hasn't given up on the online reading market. Besides its Kindle eReader, Amazon also provides a range of services such as its Kindle eBook Store and cloud reader. But its new service, Amazon Rapids, is aimed at a special audience – kids. The company is trying to get kids interested in reading by offering a new approach – text message-sized snippets presented in a format similar to direct messages on social media websites such as Twitter.

"Many kids already love using phones to chat with friends and family,” said Rohit Agarwal, general manager of Amazon K-12 Education. “We wanted to see what authors and illustrators could create with an app that made it easy to tell stories that way."

In addition to the new format, the subscription-based service will also let kids read at their own pace; by sending out text messages using the Ersatz iMessage app that might make it easy even for a new reader to get interested in reading. The app can also read stories out loud and offers glossaries to help people learn the correct pronunciation of words.

The iOS, Android and Amazon Rapids apps are live now and cost $2.99 a month for access to hundreds of Rapids-exclusive stories, with the company publishing new ones every month. The company is offering a 2-week free trial at launch.