UPDATE 2019 - PAPERLATER IS DEAD
Users of ‘read it later’ services such as Pocket, like myself, will know what’s it’s like to have a huge back log of stuff they’ll never read. There’s a new service on the block, PaperLater, which theorises that if you take the articles offline and print them in a newspaper, people might read them.
The system is simple enough, you create an account then add articles using a custom bookmarklet you can click on when you see something you want to save. This then generates a newspaper for you, and when it’s ‘full’, you can order it to be sent to your house.
The price is hefty, £4.99, and it’s only available in the UK. Curiosity got to me though so I bit the bullet, went through my Pocket queue and threw some articles at it. A few days later, my paper arrived.
The front has some facts about the paper, like the number of words (well over 35,000 in mine), issue number and unusual words. The rest is back to back articles. As a whole it looks really good and, most importantly, is easy to read.
There are one or two issues with the service. Useless links and occasional chunks of code litter some articles. This wasn’t a huge problem with mine, but it does sting a little when you’ve paid for the service.
Also, images are ignored minus one randomly picked one at the top of articles. This looks nice but leaves you with parts of text that read ‘see fig. 1’ when there is no fig. 1. There are also captions strewn accross one of the articles.
The system for picking articles is ok, but doesn’t let you choose specific ones. If you submit too many, the site simply picks some to make the best fit for the max number of pages, then saves the rest for the next issue. This is simple, but a little more control wouldn’t hurt.
The main concern, I think, is to do with copyright. This is a paying service that takes other people’s content, and prints it for free - minus any ads that were there in the first place. It’s a questionable practice, we’ll see where it goes.
Some people have told me it’s nuts to want to print the internet out. Others love the idea. I’m on the fence - I’m impressed by the final product, but I think the price will probably stop me from ordering again. If they can lower the price and/or get images printed, this could be a killer service, but for now I can’t justify this over my beloved Kobo eReader, which has Pocket built in.