The Next Stage of Reading Fiction: Chat Stories with Hooked

By Devin Garcia 5 Min Read

Everyone loves a good story. The ability to get lost in a world that isn’t our own, just for a bit. Over the years, books and literature alike have been digitized for our convince.

Can’t read because it’s too dark? Find an eBook! The built in lights on screens take away that problem. Too many books causing clutter in your home? Have an entire library of books stored on your hard drive! The accessibility of reading has become as simple as downloading and going on your way. But now, it gets even simpler.

Hooked, a new app being launched by the narrative tech company Telepathic, is an interactive app that allows the reader to simply tap the screen for a story to continue to instead of turning the page.

Founded by husband and wife, Parag Chordia and Prerna Gupta, Hooked takes on the task of presenting short stories in the form of text messaging. The intent is to make reading as fun and addicting as popular apps like Snapchat and Twitter. This is meant to appeal to the more common reaction of turning to your phone for news and games.

As of now, Telepathic has raised $1.2 million in funding for the app. With a total of $1.9 million, the startup seems to have a lot of promise. Justin Waldron, Zynga co-founder, 500 Startups, Greylock, Foundation Capital, Gil Penchina, Rivet Ventures, Eric Ries from Lean Startup, and MightyText’s CEO Maneesh Arora are among the various investors backing the Hooked project.

Gupta is trying to bring her music app history into the world of fiction writing. A popular music app of her’s sold in 2011, where she then decided to travel with her husband in 2013. Traveling led to working on fiction novels that led to research in the publishing industry, ultimately giving them the idea that it was time for something new. The idea was to figure out how fiction could fit into the every day life. With novels usually being more than 20,000 words, Gupta and Chordia thought compact stories were the way to go.

While these stories aren’t award winning pieces of fiction, the intent is to make each text bubble a cliffhanger. Chordia commented that the mystery of each story is meant to leave you, well, Hooked. The couple contacted the top Master of Fine Arts programs looking for fiction writers to create content for the app. Thrillers and mysteries are the main genre provided but romance, comedy, and some science fiction also make their way in.

Once the app is downloaded, the first few stories are free to give the reader the opportunity to figure out if Hooked is for them. The app comes with the offer of starting a $2.99 a week subscription for unlimited access to stories.

The husband and wife duo think this presents a different sort of stage to the digitized or paperback book. It still is reading in all it’s aspects, but presents itself as an addicting game like the ones present on almost every smart phone. This option also makes it easier to pick up and read a few lines here and there when the reader has time.

Prerna Gupta drew her inspiration from books written completely in letters. Dracula, for example and a Japanese genre of cell phone novels. Gupta as notes the success of the New Yorker publishing a short story over Twitter. She believes the demand for fiction is too grand to ignore. Sites like Wattpad and FanFiction are becoming increasingly popular as audiences and writers crave new stories

Chordia and Gupta have acknowledged the company is taking a risk in the experimental new approach to reading, but believe it will further open people up to reading again. Their plan, with Telepathic, is to start monitoring what readers seem drawn to, so that their stories can not only be more successful for the company but more enjoyable for the app user.

Prerna Gupta believes Hooked is set apart from its competitors because it’s an app focused on its user’s experience rather than becoming a popular social networking site. While Hooked only currently has 200 stories, their hope is to be at 1,000 by the end of this year.

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