‘Send to Kindle’ button launched: Publishers should monetize read-later apps

Amazon launched a “send to Kindle” button for blogs and news sites Tuesday, further expanding the prevalence of read-later apps such as Pocket and Instapaper. With TIME and The Washington Post already sporting the new feature, news publishers should develop strategies for monetizing the increasingly popular apps.

by WAN-IFRA Staff | March 20, 2013

While add-ons for browsers including Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome had already allowed users to export web pages to Kindle, the new button facilitates the experience — and thus will likely make it more common, further increasing pressure for publishers to develop business strategies including the apps.

However, some argue that Kindle is less fit for news reading than other read-later apps. Piotr Kowalczyk of Ebook Friendly told readers: “No matter how appealing [Kindle] sounds, don’t waste your time installing it. Kindle is not an alternative to read-later services.”

Kowalczyk emphasized that unlike other read-later apps, Kindle’s storage is limited, and readers should be disinclined to waste virtual bookshelf space with one-time reads. He compared it to “collecting daily newspapers in a book-case.” More attractive alternatives Instapaper or Evernote, he writes, automatically replace old articles so users need not worry about space constraints.

Moreover, Kowalczyk noted that organizing articles is time-consuming and difficult using Kindle’s operating system, which does not have a folder system or an easy way to search. Readers are better off relying on other apps, Pocket, Instapaper, Evernote and Readability to name a few.

Regardless, data shows that read-later apps extend articles’ lifespans and thus increase circulation, so newspaper publishers should embrace them. A Pocket study showed that 80 percent of reading for a long-form BuzzFeed article occurred in the first six days after publication for users without the read-later app; this duration was increased to 35 days for readers with Pocket, according to BuzzFeed. Pocket also noted that tweeted articles’ lifespans increase from two days to six days with the app.

“The longer you let people hold on to content, the better the odds that they’ll end up consuming it,” a Pocket blog post says. “The more they consume it, the more likely they are to share it across social media—and the longer that story lives everywhere.”

So news publishers are faced with a dilemma: This technology strips their content of ads and page views, but it extends their stories’ lifespans and potentially circulation.

“How do we survive in your world?” news publishers have asked Pocket founder Nate Weiner, he told Nieman Journalism Lab in 2011. But still no suitable answer has surfaced since that discussion.

“If you do something that’s really awesome for the users, that’s usually something that’s not good for the publishers,” Instapaper creator Marco Arment told Nieman Lab. “There’s always going to be pressure, from the user base and from competitors, to evade more ads.”

Website owners can install their own “send to Kindle” button here; WordPress users can do so here.

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