The DVR rocked the world of television by letting viewers skip commercials and build their own home viewing schedules. Now a handful of Web services and applications are starting to do much the same thing to online publishers.
These tools make it easier for people to read Web articles how, when and where they want, often dispensing with carefully arranged layouts and advertisements of publishers.
One popular tool, Readability, strips articles to the bare minimum of text and photographs with a single click. But now, Readability wants to give something back to publishers. On Tuesday, the developers behind the tool will unveil a service that requires a subscription fee of at least $5 a month.
The service, also called Readability, plans to distribute 70% of that fee to the news outlets and blogs that each subscriber is reading. For example, if a subscriber is a regular visitor to the gadget blog Gizmodo over the course of a month, Readability will calculate what percentage of his payment should go to each site and send them checks.
“We were never about stripping ads or being an ad blocker,” said Richard Ziade, who created the original Readability tool as well as the second-generation version.
Readability is one of many services experimenting with the future of reading. A wave of applications, including Pulse, Flipboard and My Taptu, are responding to changes in how people prefer to read on the Web.
Nate Weiner, founder of Read It Later, a Web and mobile service that saves articles to be read offline, said there was a larger shift under way, one that mirrors the move to digital from print.