Longreads Goes Social With Community Picks And Aims For Sustainability

If you’re a fan of reading long-form content online, you probably already know what Longreads is. If not, you should. It’s the best way to find content between 1,500 and 30,000 words on the web. And today they’ve upped the discovery element a bit by making it more social.

“Community Picks” is a new area of the Longreads website which scans Twitter for the most tweeted (and retweeted) Longreads articles. It then displays these on the website ranked by either most popular or newest. This adds another layer of stories on top of the traditional stock of Longreads editors’ picks.

“This is a new breed of community-powered curation,” founder Mark Armstrong says. “We thought it was important to give the community new ways to share their own personal picks. We feature 3-5 story recommendations per day, and roughly 80 percent of them are generated by the community on the #longreads hashtag. And thousands of stories have been shared on #longreads over the past two years,” he continues.

With this new feature also comes profiles for members. If a member has ever tweeted out a #longreads link, they will show up and be compiled on this page. In other words, this is a sort of Longreads reading list.

“Everyone is a curator now — and just like we enjoy looking through at other people’s bookshelves when we go to their house, there’s something wonderful about getting a sense of a person’s personality through their #longreads #lists. We hope to feature these individual tastes and continue to serve as a discovery engine for great storytelling and outstanding curators,” Armstrong says.

Longreads has another feature they’re unveiling today as well: a subscription model. For $3 a month or $30 a year, users of the service will be able to get early access to new features while supporting the service they love. And if you subscribe for a year, you get a Longreads mug too. Armstrong is quick to note that these subscriptions are totally optional and the service will always remain free. This is just a way to help ensure the service is sustainable as well.

This idea follows what partner Instapaper has been trying out. Partner Readability also uses a subscription model.

Armstrong notes that Longreads has come a long way in its two years of existence, when it started out as a Twitter account. Last October, when the website was unveiled, that account had roughly 7,000 followers. Now it has over 23,000 and support from publishers like The New Yorker, The Atlantic, GQ, Time, and ProPublica.