While we’re hacking away on some great new features for Readability, we thought now would be a great time to pause, come up for air and share what we’re about:
- We want more people to read great stuff on the web.
- We want to evolve the model that supports the publishers who create that great work.
- We want the experience of reading that work to be as pleasant and rewarding as possible.
- We believe the fundamentals of publishing, writing and reading on the web are evolving rapidly.
How we consume things is changing and the original notion of “publish and consume in the web browser” is being challenged. What is clear from everyone’s experiments, including our own, is that the current reading experience isn’t as good as both writers and readers deserve. As we build innovative tools and products here at Readability, we think carefully about the decisions we make. We’re a small, independent, bootstrapped company, but we think we can have a big impact on how everyone reads. And we know it’s an important opportunity because we’re joined by a number of innovative companies, both big and small, who are all trying different ways to make this work.
Reading a web page in your web browser is simple enough, but the other ways we can work with that story today are nearly infinite. For example:
- If you send a tweeted link from your Twitter app to your Instapaper account, it lands there without you ever viewing the original web page.
- If you open just about any link in a news reading app like Zite, you will find the content of that article without ever viewing the original web page.
- If you turn on a mobilizer view in some popular Twitter clients, you will open a mobile view of a page without ever viewing the original web page.
- …and who knows what’s possible with the right combination of IFTTT and Pinboard and many other powerful, awesome apps that share, remix, store and reformat content.
We’re fortunate that people are passionate about this stuff, passionate enough to really get their emotions going. Even people who work in the same office as our Readability team have fallen into the mistaken belief that this is somehow a team sport where we have to choose sides between different apps. So it’s no wonder that even smart, thoughtful writers can say surprisingly vitriolic things with uncharacteristic thoughtlessness when writing about an area as exciting as this one.
We are immensely proud of one key part of our experiments with Readability so far: We cut checks to writers. And we want to cut more of them. We welcome more readers to pay and more publishers to register and claim their money. We take pride in being the first reading platform to try something this radical. Is our method of paying publishers the right one? Almost certainly not yet. If you’re a publisher and are uncomfortable for any reason, contact us and we’ll fix the issue.
We’re experimenting because we do not believe that, ten years from now, advertisers will be happily paying for CPM banner ads on a site that people leave to read in some other app. And we don’t believe that publishers will support over the long term paid apps which generate no revenue for the publisher. The model we’re experimenting with definitely has its challenges, and we’re going to be careful about how we handle change because we made a public promise by way of our model.
Above all else, we take great pride in what we are about. Many publishers have approached us with both words of encouragement and opportunities to work together. Countless developers have built a thriving ecosystem around the platform. These bridges have been built because we’ve gone about this endeavor with purpose, integrity and a profound belief in the words great writers write and the meaning that readers find in them.
We’ve got more great things to come as we look ahead. And by “we” we mean our partners and the amazing community that has embraced Readability. Stay tuned.