Months ago on the Arc90 blog, we talked about why we built Readability. In that post. we shared some insights into some of the ideas that guided our thinking as we moved the platform forward.
Since then, it’s been an interesting time for reading on the web and publishing in general. We’ve seen important conversations bubble up that not only address the reading experience but also the quality and nature of web content itself. All the while, publishers are experimenting with new ways to extract value.
Today, Readability graduates from basic web reading tool to a full-blown reading platform.
We’re introducing a whole slew of new features to make reading on the web even better. Readability now works on mobile phones and tablets and we now provide the ability to save a web article for reading later. You can even share your reading list so that others can follow what you’re reading.
We’ve put a lot of work into the existing free add-on as well. You can change your appearance settings at any time (not just on install) and share a Readability-enhanced link via Facebook, Twitter and email.
Beyond reading features, we wanted to leverage the platform to support the writers and publishers people enjoy on the web today. In other words, we wanted to tie a mechanism that supports publishers to the act of reading. It’s easier done than said. As we embarked on this new path, a voice rang from across the Atlantic that beautifully echoed our motivation and sentiment.
John Lanchester in the London Review of Books:
I feel equally certain in saying that what the print media need[…]is a new payment mechanism for online reading, which lets you read anything you like, wherever it is published, and then charges you on an aggregated basis, either monthly or yearly or whatever[…]
I also want to feel free to read anything else which catches my eye, whenever I feel like it – I just don’t want to have to think about paying every time I click on the article to read it. I want a monthly or yearly charge, taken off my credit card without my having to think about it.
We’ve never met John but we think his plea is dead-on. That’s exactly where we’re taking Readability—
We’re turning Readability into a monthly subscription service with a unique twist: the great majority of your fees (70%) will go directly to the writers and publishers you enjoy. We’re tethering a small, passive transaction to the reading decisions you make through the platform. You can even publicly share the top domains you’re enjoying through Readability. It’s a new type of badge: “I support these writers & publishers.”
The minimum subscription fee for Readability is $5.00 a month. If you can afford to pay more, we encourage you to do so. The more you pay, the more you’re supporting publishing on the web.
And “on the web” is what Readability is all about. It’s the unencumbered web without speed bumps or toll booths to slow you down. For writers and publishers, there is no approval process, no gatekeepers and no hardware dependencies. It’s the web with a quality reading experience bolted on.
We’re even providing publishers and developers with a suite of tools to enhance the reading experience for their readers.
We recognize that on the web, everyone is a publisher. We’ve even created a handy little embed button that brings the Readability experience right to your readers.
A Match Made in Reading Heaven
Part of the original inspiration for Readability is the exceptional iOS reading application Instapaper. Today, we couldn’t be more excited to announce a our partnership with Instapaper. Subscribers of Readability that own iPhones or iPads can download Readability for iOS, powered by Instapaper.
As of this writing, the app hasn’t been approved on iTunes, but look out for it in the coming days. We’ve got other big announcements surrounding the Instapaper-Readability partnership in the near future. Stay tuned.
Quality Content is Expensive
The core motivator behind the new Readability is pretty straight-forward: good, quality content is worth paying for and we shouldn’t have to rely on any particular platform or device to do so. Readability represents an ambitious attempt to reconcile the freedom and speed of the web with the need to pay for content that is worth paying for.
We couldn’t be more excited about the new Readability. We’ve got so much more to announce in the coming days and weeks. You can stay in the loop by following @readability on Twitter or checking back here on the Readability blog.