10 Apps & Sites That Bring Back the Joy of Reading

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2. Instapaper

The granddaddy of the minimalist reading apps, Instapaper was released in 2008 by former Tumblr CTO and independent developer Marco Arment, who bills it as “a simple tool to save Web pages for reading later.” When he set out, he was concerned not so much with decluttering the Web as with finding a way to facilitate time-shifting, so that readers could access high-quality content when they’re away from the distractions of the Web. As Arment points out in the Instapaper FAQ, “The times when we find content aren’t always ideal for consuming it.”

Instapaper works like this: Once you’ve signed up for the service, you go to the Instapaper website and grab the “Read Later” bookmarklet, a little button that you can drag and drop into the bookmarks bar of your browser. Then when you come across a Web page that you want to read later, you just click on this button, which activates a script that extracts the article text and saves it on Instapaper’s cloud servers (or, optionally, sends it straight to your Kindle reading device).

Then you have several options: you can go to the Instapaper site, find the saved article in your queue, and read the text-only version there. Or you can read it on your Kindle, if you selected that option. Or if you have an iPhone or an iPad, you can download the Instapaper iOS app and read the articles in your queue there.

I love the iPhone version of the app and I use it a lot when I’m standing in line at the grocery store or killing time in between other activities. I use the iPad version for longer, more intense reading sessions at home. My favorite feature: tilt-scrolling, which uses the accelerometer in the iPhone/iPad to scroll the text up or down, depending on which way you tilt the device.

The app costs $4.99, but the Instapaper service is free, unless you want to support Arment with a $1 per month subscription, which gets you a few goodies like the ability to search the articles you’ve saved.

Next app: Longform.

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Wade Roush is a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @wroush

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