What the Betamax Case Teaches Us About Readability

I really enjoyed Mike Davidson’s take on Readability:

The anger about the financial side of Readability seems to come from the opinion that the company is “keeping publishers’ money” unless they sign up, but I guess I look at it differently: I don’t think it is the publishers’ money. I think it is Readability’s money. Readability invests the time and resources into developing their service and they are the ones who physically get users to pay a subscription fee. It’s hard to get users to pay for content and they are the ones who are actually doing it. They realize that the popularity of their service is a direct result of content creators’ efforts so they are voluntarily redistributing 70% of it back to publishers in the only way it is feasible to: based on pageviews from publishers who register themselves.

I think Davidson accurately describes what it is that people like about Readability. My beef isn’t with the concept, it’s with the framing and execution. Michael Sippey, on Twitter:

My issue with @readability is this line: “70% of your monthly contribution is earmarked for the writers you read” https://www.readability.com/readers/register/contribute

For example, I’d be happy if 70% of my sub fees went directly to the four pubs that had registered (Awl, Dashes, Millions, Morning News).

I.e., Readability should make it clear that it’s really up to 70 percent of subscriber contributions that are paid to publishers, and that in reality it’s far less because most websites aren’t in their program. Or, they should pay 70 percent and split it only among those publishers who are registered. The way they’re doing it now is misleading at best, and arguably dishonest.

Monday, 2 April 2012