By: Rich Kane
Could the future of newspapers involve a sharp U-turn to the printed past?
The people behind PaperLater (paperlater.com) think so. Much like the popular app Instapaper, PaperLater lets you save articles you find on the Internet but don’t immediately have time to read. Instead of electronically archiving those stories until you eventually get around to them (or not), though, the company will lay and print them out for you—on actual newsprint—and snail-mail your personalized, printed, foldable newspaper to your home.
You won’t get a fancy layout here. PaperLater articles give you a headline, maybe a photo, and gobs and gobs of text. Anything from the Web is available for printing, the PaperLater website points out, but the format works best for articles and blog posts. Photo-heavy pieces don’t work well. Neither do paywall-protected stories or PDFs, but the folks behind the site say they are “working on it.”
They also say that if you don’t want copyrighted material or if you’re a publisher who doesn’t want your content to be available for PaperLater, then there’s an easy click-through notification tag on the site to let them know.
PaperLater, based in Scotland, is only available in the U.K for now, but the company says they will “use your feedback to help us gauge the demand if you really want it in your country.” The PaperLater folks didn’t respond to several interview requests from E&P.
If and when it comes stateside, for about $9 per issue, you have a minimum of eight and up to 24 pages to fill with as many stories as you like. Once you’re ready to have it sent to you, it takes three to five days to arrive.
And when it does, the customized cover is graced with special birthing info, including the number of articles inside, the date and time it was printed, the total number of words within the pages, and what the rarest of those words are, such as ‘balderdash,’ ‘switcheroo’ or ‘godhead.’
We also love their distinctly Luddite-embracing slogan: “No more clicks. Sit. Read. Relax.” There’s also the fact that PaperLater papers are printed on thicker-than-normal, sustainably-sourced newsprint from a forest somewhere in Sweden.
Maybe PaperLater is a cool hipster thing, along the same lines as the comeback of vinyl record albums and bushy-bearded men. But it may just accomplish what legacy media companies have been struggling with lately—make some under-30 types fall in love with newspapers.
Editor’s note: As of December 2014, the PaperLater experiment has come to an end.Their blog post can be found here.