After making too many frustrating 40-minute commutes with an empty Instapaper queue, Mark Armstrong, director of content at internet startup Bundle, decided to ask for some help. His idea: convince both consumers and producers of news to rally around the concept of “longreads.” Armstrong snapped up the @longreads Twitter handle and hyped the #longreads Twitter tag — for use on tweeted links to lengthy stories. Now, the 1,200 examples of long-form journalism collected by the Twitter account are available on Longreads.com, which launched this morning.
The project attempts to merge the explosion of new media consumption platforms with the eternal tradition of the raconteur — the writer who needs an immense amount of space to tell a story. “Now that we have a time, a place, and a format where the best journalism in the world can thrive online, the appetite for it is obvious,” Armstrong writes on his Tumblr page. “It’s on the iPhone, iPad and Kindle. It’s on apps like Instapaper, where you can read offline and on your own terms. And it’s from writers and reporters who can expand our worldview and move us to tears — or better yet, action — in 7,000 words.”
Each piece on the Longreads site indicates the number of words and, using the average reading speed, the approximate amount of time it will take to read. For instance, the Vanity Fair piece that went up today about House Republican leader John Boehner contains 4220 words, and will take 17 minutes to read. Sounds like our daily commute on the F train! Perfect!
Already, the Twitter feeds for The Atlantic, Esquire, and Lapham’s Quarterly have taken to adding #longreads when tweeting links to beefier pieces, and The Awl and Capital New York have longreads tags to bundle all that time-consuming goodness in one place.
Since we know you all have iPhones with Instapaper apps, get going on this!