I am late to the Readability party, but now that I have a seat at the table, I’m delighted to report I love the whole idea and driving purpose behind the product.  As a fan of Instapaper, I was surprised to see Readability so readily adopted by major RSS feed readers like Reeder.  I wondered what that red chair icon meant, and I wanted to know how Readability differed from Instapaper.

Here’s the explanation of the service from the Readability website:

Readability is a subscription–based web app with a simple purpose: to deliver a great reading experience and to provide a model to support writers and publishers. It turns virtually any web page into a clean, comfortable reading view. You can also sync articles for reading later as you surf around the web. Readability works on your web browser and mobile device, giving you the flexibility to read anytime anywhere.

Readability is designed to support writers and publishers by distributing the great majority of your fees (70%) based upon your Readability activity. Where you’ve instantly converted a web page for reading or queued one up for reading later, Readability keeps track of the web sites you visit and distributes money directly to them.

For $5.00USD a month, I get to save my favorite web discoveries in Readability and I can read those stories later on my iPhone or iPad or inside my web browser.  That monthly fee is what makes Readability magical — because what you choose to save gets recorded, and a percentage of your monthly keep gets paid to the publishers you’re saving!

As a publisher of 14 blogs, I admire the idea of finding a seamless and transparent recording metric that allows readers to “save you” and “pay you” in a single Readability click. While my reader Readability account is working great, when I tried to sign up as a publisher, the registration process puked and failed.  The good news is that Readability saves payments for any publisher who is not yet registered on their site, so no money is lost in the end.  I do wish Readability would allow the unification of a Reading account and a Publisher account in the same account.  That would make everything so much easier to manage from both ends.

Here’s an example of my current save Readability reading list.  I can click on the title of the story and be immediately taken to the beautifully formatted, saved, version of the online article stored in my Readability account:

Here’s what a saved Readability blog post looks.  No cruft.  No ads.  Nothing screaming at you.  You only get the content you intended.

Here are my Readability contributions for June 2011.  You can see a Japanese cat blog — I am Maru — is my #1 source of saved articles, and that’s because I like to keep all the Maru posts for Janna to read later at her convenience.  We love Maru.  We think he’s funny.

While I like Instapaper a lot, I don’t use it any longer now that I have Readability in force.  I can save articles to my Readability account at will, on whatever platform I’m currently using, and reading my saved articles later is a real breeze and, the best part of all, my money goes directly to those writing the pieces I enjoy.

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