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No One Wants to Own Instapaper

Originally launched by Marco Arment as an iPhone app, the save for later service Instapaper was sold to Betaworks in 2013, who then sold it to Pinterest in 2016.

Now Instapaper is being spun out as an independent company.

Today, we’re announcing that Pinterest has entered into an agreement to transfer ownership of Instapaper to Instant Paper, Inc., a new company owned and operated by the same people who’ve been working on Instapaper since it was sold to betaworks by Marco Arment in 2013. The ownership transfer will occur after a 21 day waiting period designed to give our users fair notice about the change of control with respect to their personal information.

We want to emphasize that not much is changing for the Instapaper product outside the new ownership. The product will continue to be built and maintained by the same people who’ve been working on Instapaper for the past five years. We plan to continue offering a robust service that focuses on readers and the reading experience for the foreseeable future.

Playing the game of musical owners does not instill confidence about the stability or direction of the company (just about the only way it could be worse is if Yahoo bought it), which is why as a longtime user and avid fan, I hope this isn’t a bad sign for the future of Instapaper.

Instapaper isn’t just one of my core tools, it’s also my touchstone for legibility. I use it to judge a website’s designs by loading their articles into Instapaper, and then seeing whether the original is easier to read than the copy in Instapaper. (The majority of websites, including the much-lauded Medium, fail this test.)

If Instapaper fails we will all be the worse for it.

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Randy Lea July 17, 2018 um 11:28 am

I use the similar app/service Pocket. I couldn’t live without the function, I use it to save web pages for future reference, like how do do something on my phone/tablet/PC, recipes, etc. I also use it to make reading longer or more complex pages easier, by eliminating all the cruft and making the page look like an ebook. This applies to magazine length articles and things like scientific articles that require concentration to read. They also make it easy to share clipped items with friends that use Pocket. There is a Chrome extension that gives you an icon to click to simple store pages that are then available on all your devices, and you share items with Pocket on Android.

Pocket has added annoying features, like suggesting popular content, but if that keeps them alive then its fine. Their pro service requires a healthy monthly payment, which I don’t consider a good value.

Disgusting Dude July 17, 2018 um 12:13 pm

How does Instapaper make money (if at all)? App sales, subscription service, ads, user data?

Apparition July 17, 2018 um 1:16 pm

Instapaper used to have a monthly subscription, up until Pinterest bought it two years ago. It’s been entirely free since then. I can’t see that lasting long now though, just as I can’t see enough people re-subscribing to it to make it last. Pity.

Nate Hoffelder July 17, 2018 um 2:39 pm

I’m not sure how they make money now. I assume that they are supported by getting paid to work on 3rd-party apps.

Danny July 17, 2018 um 1:14 pm

I used to use Pocket as it tends to render content better (pages with images) than Instapaper BUT it wasn’t remembering where I was in an article so I would always move back to Instapaper.

Russell Phillips July 17, 2018 um 5:33 pm

Maybe they’ll restore access to those of us in the EU. I still get the "temporarily unavailable for users in Europe" whenever I go to the Instapaper site 🙁

Josh Gunderson July 18, 2018 um 10:51 am

It’s been nearly 2 months since Instapaper blocked access by European customers because they weren’t ready for GDPR. And since (circling back to the recent "Do You Still RSS?" article) Inoreader is based in Europe, they have subsequently removed their Instapaper functionality, even for non-Euro customers.

There were [essentially] 3: Instapaper, Pocket (formerly ReadItLater), and Readability. I did some experimenting to see how well each one worked for different sites I was saving via Inoreader, and they all had pros & cons.

Then there were 2: Readability announced its death almost 2 years ago. I think it was the worst of the 3 for my uses, but still not bad by any means.

And it doesn’t look good for Instapaper now, which is a shame, because it was the clear winner for a lot of the sites I saved via Inoreader, particularly the ones with guitar tabulature. :\

Nate Hoffelder July 18, 2018 um 11:43 am

I get the impression that Pinterest would have been fine with simply shutting Instapaper down rather than bring it into compliance with GDPR, don’t you?

gregoire August 9, 2018 um 10:39 am

i like instapaper so much i m thinking of buying a pro subscription even if i ll never use it.
pocket is quite good too and i like the tagging system they have better than instapapers folders but overall i think instapaper is better.

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