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Reader.IS is a Minimalist News Reader With an Unusual Revenue Stream

reader.isIf there is anything that I have learned since Google announced the Readerpocalypse in March it is that some rather strange news reader services were lurking in the shadow of Google Reader.

One such service that I just tried today is This is by no means a Google Reader replacement, but it is one of the more unusual examples of niche news readers that I have come across. has 3 noteworthy quirks:

  • it only shows excerpts,
  • it lacks filter and sort options, and
  • it charges $3 to import your catalog of RSS feeds.

I have not tested this service with my feeds because I don’t want to pay the $3, but I did add a few feeds and look at how they were presented.

As you can see in the screenshot below, the list of RSS feeds is in the left panel while the list of articles takes up the center panel and the blog posts take up the right panel:

The first feed I loaded was my own, and as you can see shows only an excerpt of the post. That is rather strange given that my feed includes the full post, not an excerpt.

One detail that isn’t obvious in the screenshot is that the excerpt will always line up with the related article title in the center panel. This is going to present a problem when the article title is near the bottom of the page; the excerpt will end up hanging off the bottom of the screen. offers several themes with different colors as well as a couple different layouts, but they all have the same basic functionality.  You can only see excerpts, and there are no filtering options (show only unread, for example).

Frankly, I don’t think that very many people will be interested in this service, but I couldn’t help but comment upon the revenue model. I have never heard of any news reader that charged a similar fee, but I can see why they did.

When you think about it, it makes sense for a noncommercial service like to scare away users. That $3 is going to discourage news junkies from signing up and thus increasing the server load with unreasonable demands.

But even though I understand it I still find it a little odd.

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