When Byliner.com launched last month, there was plenty of enthusiasm about their new “Pandora of narrative non-fiction” from fans of long-form journalism. But Brooklyn writer Matt Langer added a note of skepticism to the conversation — one often heard when talking about the many new services that try to make web articles more readable.
In a post on his blog, he pointed out that the “Read at Source” button at the bottom of Byliner’s article previews often links to “the print version of the original source (also known as the ‘ad-free version’ or the ‘revenue-free edition’ or the ‘making publishing an unsustainable industry version’),” and that the “Read It Later” button allows readers “to bypass the original source entirely and send the content directly to Read It Later.” Over Twitter, he clarified: It’s possible to save a story on Read It Later and then re-open the full web version, with ads. But readers also have the option of opening a text-only version of the story.
Together, Langer suggested, services like Byliner.com and Read It Later were offering readers a very elegant, convenient way of bypassing ads altogether.