As a lifelong reader of multiple books and stories at once, I’ve perfected a juggling system that includes always having a mix of print books and literary journals that I can smell, touch, and turn, along with at least one digital book or story on my phone that I can read at any time and at any place. When I was recently waiting for my next library hold to become available, I found myself scrolling through my Kindle app, searching for a title to tide me over immediately. What I discovered was a concept that might just change my reading life forever: Amazon Original Stories.
I’d found a goldmine of short, easily digestible works by authors I already loved, authors I’d been waiting to read, and authors I didn’t know, but was curious to read. Best of all, since I’m an Amazon Prime member, all of them were free. I started by downloading Jacqueline Woodson. Then I spotted a story by by Naima Coster. And others by Curtis Sittenfeld, Kiley Reid, and Yiyun Li. Suddenly, I couldn’t stop. Where had Amazon Original Stories been all my life?
Once I’d downloaded my titles, I got curious about the details. What exactly is the Amazon Original Stories platform? How did it get started and why? For those of you as excited by this discovery as I’ve been, here’s what I’ve learned about Amazon Original Stories and the benefits to both readers and authors.
What Is the Amazon Original Stories Platform?
Amazon Original Stories is an imprint of Amazon Publishing that releases a variety of fiction and nonfiction works designed to be read in a single sitting. Its mission — as described by its editorial director, Julia Sommerfeld, to Publisher’s Weekly — is “to champion stories, essays, and reporting by the premiere storytellers of our time and to introduce unforgettable new voices to Prime and Kindle Unlimited members.” According to Forbes, the imprint, which was launched in 2017, releases 40–50 new pieces each year.
Amazon Prime and Kindle Unlimited members can access each digital story and its accompanying audio edition for free. All other customers can buy titles for $1.99 each with the option to add the audio version for free. All audio editions feature a thoughtfully selected lineup of narrators, including, as Sommerfeld told Forbes, the authors themselves, other award-winning authors and writers, as well as some celebrities, such as actress Samira Wiley and singer Lea Salonga.
How to Access Amazon Original Stories
Whether or not you’re a Prime or Kindle Unlimited member, I’d recommend starting your search at the Amazon Original Stories homepage, where you’ll find all of the collections and categories laid out in one place. From there, simply download them to your Kindle device or Kindle app, and start enjoying.
What You’ll Find
An Amazon Original Stories collection is a group of works — fiction, nonfiction, or a mix of both — by various authors around a single theme. For example, “Currency” features eight fiction stories addressing “battles over currency, class, privilege — and social distance.”
Like “Currency,” the stories in the collection “The One” share a theme — the path to finding that perfect match — but are all nonfiction instead of fiction.
On the other hand, the “Out of Line” collection includes a mix of fiction and nonfiction works, each a take on “women on the verge of a breakthrough.”
While most collections feature a variety of authors, “Nothing Like I Imagined (Except for Sometimes)” features six stories by writer Mindy Kaling, who explores her life as a single mom.
Unlike the collections, serials present multiple, connected works by the same author. “House of Crows” by Lisa Unger, for instance, is a four-part series about a group of friends whose shared secret begins to catch up with them many years later. “Young Blood,” a trilogy by film writer Andrew Barrer, chronicles the story of postmillennials who have discovered the fountain of youth.
Just as the name suggests, singles are standalone works in a mix of genres, and include works by literary superstars such as Tom Perotta and David Sedaris, among other authors.
How to Enjoy Them
Once you’ve downloaded your titles, just send them to your Kindle device or app and they’ll pop up in your library. If you have an audio version in addition to the digital copy, you can easily toggle between them and pick up wherever you left off.
How They Benefit Authors
In her interview with Forbes, Sommerfeld described Amazon Original Stories as “a playground for published authors, storytellers, and emerging voices.” The imprint gives its featured authors many interesting opportunities, both creative and financial.
Creatively, many of the featured authors get to explore genres for which they’re not most well-known. For example, Jacquelyn Woodson and Naima Coster, both known for their fiction, each contributed nonfiction works in the collection “The One.”
Through these stories, authors can also interact differently with both new and existing readers. The imprint provides a platform for authors to reach readers who may not have discovered them otherwise, helping to boost sales of the authors’ previous books and to drive preorders of their upcoming works. Contributing to Amazon Original Stories also gives authors a way to stay connected to their existing fans between publications.
How They Benefit Readers
If you’re like me, finding something short but rewarding between library books is reason enough to celebrate. But there are many other reasons you’ll want to add these stories to your rotation.
First, it’s a great way to read an author you don’t know or to try out a different genre than your usual. The experiment won’t take longer than one sitting — and doesn’t require a big cost commitment. If you’re anxiously awaiting a favorite author’s next book, you might find something by them to read while you wait. Or, you may just discover your new favorite writer.
Amazon Original Stories also provides an excellent opportunity to read multiple perspectives in a shorter amount of time than it would take to get through a full-length book. In addition to saving time, the ability to toggle between digital and audio versions without losing your place lets you easily enjoy the stories wherever your day takes you.
So the next time you’re ready for a new read, consider starting your search at Amazon Original Stories. You could discover a great new voice, an interesting new genre, or simply an easy way to support your favorite authors.