The web's reading platform.

Writers and Publishers – Join Us!

Since Readability launched two months ago, over a thousand writers, bloggers and publishers have registered with us. We couldn’t be happier. By registering, you’re given access to your publisher console that shows metrics around which of your pages are being read by Readability subscribers. In addition, the registration process serves as the formal first step to collecting funds that have been earmarked by Readability for you.

If you haven’t registered your domain(s) with Readability yet, don’t worry. One of the unique things about Readability is that we’re already earmarking funds for domain owners prior to them formally registering with us. Note, however, that Readability only holds the funds for the last 12 months of activity prior to registering.

If you haven’t registered with Readability, please do so. It takes just a few minutes and it ensures that any funds derived from subscriber activity will go directly to you. We also encourage everyone to read over the Publisher FAQ and the Publisher Terms of Service. We’re always interested in your thoughts about Readability. Whether you’re a reader, a publisher or both, don’t hesitate to share your feedback or ideas with us.

Readability is off to a great start. We’d like to thank the readers, writers and publishers that have joined us in this first leg of the journey to help bring great reading and great writing to the web. We’ve got an incredibly exciting roadmap ahead of us and we couldn’t be happier to have you along.

The Readability API Contest

Developers: May we have your attention, please? We’re very excited to announce the Readability API Contest, where any and all developers may pit their skills against one another to innovate the reading experience online. The grand prize? $5,000.

Minutes ago tonight, at the New York Tech Meetup, the Readability team shared this unique opportunity for the developer community to join us in the wider Readability project of improving reading on the web and elsewhere.

Now it’s all up to you. Here are the details.

Your Objective

Use the Readability API to develop something new and interesting.

Dates

Updated: The final submission deadline is June 12th, 2011.

Eligibility

To qualify, entrants are required to use the Readability API. (Request your API key now!) Entrants must be unaffiliated with Readability, LLC.

Your Prizes

Prizes will be awarded as follows:

  • 1st prize: $5,000
  • 2nd prize: $2,500
  • 3rd prize: $1,000

Jury & Judging Criteria

Your submission will be adjudicated by the distinguished prize jury of advisory board members Sarah Chubb, Anil Dash, and Jeffrey Zeldman.

Our blue-panel jury, representing influential talents from the worlds of design, publishing, and online community, will evaluate entries on the basis of:

  1. Quality: how polished is it?
  2. Usefulness: how practical is it?
  3. Creativity: how novel is it?
  4. Added Bonus: How open is it? We will reward open source efforts that allow others to innovate further.

Get Inspired

Looking for inspiration? Dig the new TweetMag. Spark conversation on Twitter, and consider visiting Readability Ideas, where our member community helps us chart the future of the Readability service.

Enter Now

Submit your proposal to us today! All we need is some basic information.

Good luck to everyone—and thank you for joining us in the Readability movement!

Lost Art, Rediscovered

It’s encouraging that the word longform has been reclaimed by online audiences the past few years, but also strange. Strange because many people never considered lengthy, thoughtful writing to be an exotic lost art. Meanwhile others have been been lulled into believing longform can’t coexist with the re-mashed, attention-deficit writing that the web tends to foster.

Two recent experiences at SXSW proved it can, and made me regret neglecting longform in the first place: one was seeing the excellent “The Death of the Death of Longform Journalism” panel and the other was seeing Page One, a documentary about the New York Times’ struggle to adapt. Both reminded me that there are smart, optimistic audiences for whom longform never left.

iPhone and magazinesFor me, using Readability has been about rediscovery. The love I had in college for both rock journalism and personal memoir came alive again after reading this piece in Salon. My weird fascination with Scientology kept me glued to this New Yorker article for nearly a week, reading the first third on my iPhone on the subway, second third on a bus, and final third in my dentist’s waiting room.

Just like the magazine writing that meant so much to me growing up, I realized there were other forms I had been neglecting—classic short fiction, poems, lyrics, transcriptions of speeches, even user-manuals for devices I’m exploring—simply because they weren’t portable enough.

Readability has changed all that. I haven’t read John Cheever’s The Swimmer in 15 years but this week I added it to my my reading list and read it on the subway. Soon I’ll re-read Lyndon’ Johnson’s “We Shall Overcome” speech and my favorite David Berman poem. The Readability algorithm is smart enough it can slurp text from just about anywhere and you’ll always have it saved for later.

Since launch, it’s been exciting to watch what people are doing with the app. Like Twitter, Readability began with a single purpose but ultimately it’s the community who will shape it. It’s also been great to watch writers and curators spring up around their appreciation for journalism. We’re seeing longform redefine and rediscover itself at the same time readers are finding innovative ways to discover it.

All the hNews Fit to Print

Readability is, among other things, an advocate of the web standards movement. We made the decision to adopt the hNews standard, a microformat pioneered by the Associated Press, for two reasons.

We believe better metadata is a laudable objective for making digital publishers’ content work harder for themselves. But we also maintain that standards like hNews are the gateway to significantly advancing the user experience across the hardware and software we use—most especially for those seeking to innovate how readers can more efficiently and enjoyably consume content.

So, in translation: do it for yourself; do it for others.

As our own contribution, we have developed article publishing guidelines for all who care to take up the web standards banner with us. Metadata matters, but we all have a stake in cleaner, more presentable content across the web.

The future of reading will not be televised—it will be parsed. But it’s on all of us as developers and publishers to make good on the potential of the metadata at our disposal.

Check back with us in coming weeks as we take a closer look at the semantic side of Readability and the prospects of better reading for all.

A Match Made in iPad Heaven

When we first released Readability in the beginning of February, we never viewed it as a monolithic “app” but rather as a reading platform that just about anyone – publisher, writer or developer – is welcome to leverage.

Today, we’re really happy to see Readability powering one of the most elegant reading applications for the iPad: TweetMag.

Built by the talented team of designers and engineers at Teehan+Lax, TweetMag is a wonderful example of how the reading convenience and flexibility of Readability can shine within a rich magazine-style experience on the iPad. With the new version of TweetMag, a subscriber to Readability, you can send any articles you come across right to your reading list. In addition, you can now enjoy your Readability saved articles within TweetMag. It’s a great way to enjoy your Readability content on the iPad – online or offline.

More importantly, it illustrates the possibility of bringing a great reading experience – and a platform that supports writers and publishers – right into your app. The new TweetMag is available today on iTunes. If you own an iPad, what are you waiting for? Go get it!

The New York Review of Books Turns the Page

Readability was built from the ground up to embrace publishers of every shape, size, and definition. From the humble blog comment to the status update on up, all we produce and consume online is content: by extension (as web professionals know), everyone is a de facto publisher on the web. Allowing readers to reward the publishers and writers they read most just feels right to us, and so Readability does not discriminate between publishers—no matter their pedigree or price of entry—whether it’s a cat blog or nytimes.com.

Yet not every publisher is the New York Review of Books, which today sports the Readability button throughout its site.

Fig. I. Readability buttons embedded at NYBooks.com

We believe the pleasures of anywhere, anytime reading are only beginning to find their natural, wider audience with established readerships like the Review’s. Astute publishers, for their part, recognize the prevailing modes of content discovery and consumption are changing rapidly online. Readability offers a revenue-positive path for them to stay connected to the shift afoot (all digital reading is becoming “read later” reading), and allows readers the freedom of enjoying and sharing great content on a range of devices, at no cost or inconvenience to publishers. Publishers, for their part, gain insight into how their content is being consumed across our platform, online and off.

We are especially pleased the Review is stepping out publicly with us at a time when some publishers, faced with manifold challenges, are re-entrenching in legacy business models or retreating from the promise of the web. The Review itself was born in a time of industry transition; it’s only fitting they understand the importance of addressing readers’ needs—on readers’ own terms.

The ongoing reinvention of the publishing industry will be a journey of many successive steps, big and small. The principle of putting readers first airs a resounding note of respect for what readers clearly want, and for where they are already—in digital droves toting phones and e-readers—taking the reading experience.

As for us, we’re looking forward to sharing more of the fruits of our collaborative efforts with publishers. There’s much more to come.

Watch this space.

Meet the New Readability Mobile

With the re-launch of Readability as a full-fledged reading platform, we made a commitment to deliver the best possible reading experience not only in your web browser but on mobile and tablet devices as well.

Today, we’re excited to announce the release of the new, enhanced version of Readability for mobile and tablet devices. With this release, we’re delivering a rich and comfortable reading experience on most popular tablets and smart phones.

We’ve always known that tablets and smart phones are a great way to consume content formatted with Readability. Now we’ve made it easier and more enjoyable than ever to do so. To install, simply visit readability.com and add the app to your home screen.

Readability for mobile features:

  • Drop a link and read comfortably…instantly. Anyone can visit readability.com on a smart phone or tablet and paste URL and within seconds, you’re presented with a clean comfortable reading view.
  • Responsive display of the reading experience . Whether you’re on an iPhone, Android, Barnes & Noble Nook or an iPad, Readability senses the dimensions of the device you’re on and morphs the display accordingly.
  • Full offline support. All your articles are synced down to your phone for reading without Internet access. When you’re off the grid, keep using Readability as usual and all of your actions – starring, archiving – sync up automatically once you’re back online.
  • Customize and share. Tweak your display settings for each mobile device or tablet you use. Share any article you’re reading via Twitter, Facebook or email.

Underneath the hood is…the web. Readability for mobile is a web application specially fitted for mobile and tablet devices. It’s a great example of what can be achieved by building apps on the latest web technology.

A final thought regarding our iOS submission: our overarching goal is to deliver the best possible experience to users of Readability. We re-submitted the Readability app to Apple along with an appeal approximately two weeks ago. We haven’t heard back yet.

We hope you enjoy this update to Readability. It’s 100% web technology and 100% approval-free and we’re really proud of it. This release highlights the kind of firepower behind Readability. The team put this together in two weeks. It’s a testament to building applications based upon web standards—effective, cross-device web applications can be built in a fraction of the time of a native app, and be provided without restriction.

Looking ahead, we plan to keep enhancing and building on the foundation we’ve established here. Happy mobile reading!

A Letter to Readability

Ever since Readability was released nearly two years ago, we’ve gotten countless emails from people telling us they can read again on the web. Everyone from the elderly to those with severe vision problems to teachers who help kids with cognitive difficulties has reached out to us. It’s one of the most gratifying aspects of what we do.

The topic of “accessibility” rarely gets to bask in the spotlight. It’s often relegated to being a “requirement” on a web or app project. If we step away from technology for a moment, we’d realize that accessibility is about people. For us, accessibility is defined by the stories Readability users have shared with us.

On occasion on this blog, we plan to share some of these stories with you. Below is an email we received recently. At the request of the sender, their identity has been concealed:

Dear Arc90 team,

I want to thank you, 1000 times over, for creating the Readability plugin. I use the plugin myself every day, but that’s not the main reason I’m writing.

My 77-year-old father is a complete newshound and spends hours each day devouring news online. Over the past year his eyesight has worsened due to a combination of macular degeneration and other problems– to the point where he could no longer go online. He was spending his days poring over the Boise Statesman newspaper with a lighted magnifying glass. (If you’ve ever read the Boise Statesman, you know how punishing that can be.)

While visiting him recently I re-configured his Mac — using a combination of the Universal Access features and the Readability plugin-\ – so he could access his favorite sites (Washington Post, Pittsburgh Post Gazette, MSNBC, ESPN, etc. etc.) After spending a few minutes reading a story on WaPo, he started to cry. He was so relieved to emerge from a period of “news darkness” that he cried tears of joy.

Again, I can’t thank you enough for making this possible. I just wanted to let you know what a difference you made in one person’s life. (Actually, you probably improved my mom’s life too since my dad is focused on his news and has stopped bugging her!)

Warm regards,
##### ##########

Join us at SXSW

If you’re attending SXSW Interactive this year, Readability and Arc90 will have a small contingency roaming the streets of Austin. We’ve created an @arc90/SXSW on Twitter to make it easier to reach us.

As for the conference itself, we’re involved in a few of the talks:

Beyond all the panels and presentations, we’d love to meet you if you’re attending. On Sunday night, we plan on posting a meeting place on Twitter for a drink (or two). Be sure to follow us on Twitter for updates.

See you there!

Sarah Chubb Joins Readability’s Advisory Board

Today, we’re excited to announce that Sarah Chubb, the outgoing president of Condé Nast Digital, will be joining the advisory team for Readability. Over the past 20 years, Sarah successfully spearheaded all of Condé Nast’s technology initiatives across its various properties – bringing some of the biggest brands in publishing to the web. A few weeks ago, Sarah announced she was leaving Condé Nast.

We couldn’t be happier to have Sarah’s industry experience and knack for peering ahead on our side. She will be joining our incredible group of advisors: Marco Arment, Roger Black, Jay Chakrapani, Anil Dash, Paul Ford, Jeffrey MacIntyre, Karen McGrane and Jeffrey Zeldman.

Welcome Sarah!