Eight years using Instapaper

Yesterday, I was reading “The best read-it-later service” by The Sweet Setup, and this stood out to me:

In September 2014, Instapaper announced that the app would switch to a freemium model, with most basic functionality offered in a free version, but several new premium options available for a subscription fee of $3 a month or $30 a year. Customers who’d already been subscribing for $1 a month were grandfathered into the new plan.

To my archives!

I haven’t tried or considered other read-it-later services (like Pocket and Readability) because Instapaper has never let me down.1 🙂

Thank you, Marco, and (now) Betaworks. I look forward to many more years!

  1. I searched my archives to make sure I didn’t rant about Instapaper. ;) 

Instapaper’s site on mobile is beautiful

While trying to see how many items I saved to Instapaper in my Read Later folder, I loved how everything looked on their site (Safari 7, iPhone iOS 7.1). Super easy to read. The layout has room to breathe, and elements are spaced well.

If you know someone who rarely needs to use Instapaper offline, they’ll love it.

(I enjoy Instapaper for iOS, too. Worth it.)

Another bonus: Instapaper Weekly and Product Updates are opt–in, the way it should be. 🙂

I never found my current number unread items, and I’m cool with it. Less stressful.

View an article with Instapaper Text only using the keyboard

As a happy, longtime Instapaper user, I need the Instapaper Text bookmarklet often when settling in for a lengthy read on my MacBook Air.

I’d like to share a tip that’ll save time of switching to your mouse or trackpad.

When the bookmarklet is saved to your browser, you can use it with the page you’re viewing by following these steps:

  1. Move your cursor to the address (a.k.a. location) bar by pressing Command + L.1
  2. Type the first few letters of the bookmarklet name (or the whole thing if you type quickly).
  3. Press Enter.

If you use folders in Instapaper2, you can take this a step further by saving the bookmarklet for those folders as well.

  1. Mac: Works with Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Safari
  2. Pro tip. If you send saved articles from Instapaper to your Kindle, don’t mix text articles with media so those particular entries aren’t wasting space in that periodical (Amazon’s term, not mine). I have video, audio, and photo folders as well. 

Switching to wireless delivery from Instapaper for my Kindle 3G

For months, I’ve been using Wordcycler (Windows, freeware) to manually sync individual items from Instapaper to my Kindle 3G + Wi-Fi via USB cable. Now that I have a smaller number of articles to read, I’m going to try receiving new items via Wi-Fi through Instapaper.

I’ll also start trying Instapaper’s Send to Kindle bookmarklet for immediate delivery (Account > Manage My Kindle Settings).

If this works well, it’ll be fantastic not having to connect my Kindle to my computer every few days. I’d only need to worry about charging it.

Review: Kindle 3G

Last week, I finally got the Kindle 3G (Graphite). Finally! My precious.

I’ve had my Kindle 3G for a little over a week, and I’ve logged about 20-25 hours of use. (Total guess.)

The short version: I love the Kindle 3G and highly recommend it.

Why did I purchase a Kindle?

I’m subscribed to a lot of sites in Google Reader.1 Rather than starring items for later in Google Reader, I save lengthy posts in Instapaper.

Since I don’t read books as often as I’d like, I was hoping this would nudge me in that direction.

Why not get an iPad or laptop?

The Kindle does one thing very well: allow you to read comfortably.

While I could read and do much more on an Apple iPad or notebook (the usual comparisons), it wouldn’t be comfortable for long periods of time.

The other day, two and a half hours flew by reading on the Kindle. I stopped to get a drink of water.

I love being able to bring my Kindle everywhere with ease. Before, taking my [now unused] laptop to Panera was a hassle. Most of the time, I’m reading more than typing at length.

How does the free Kindle email address work?

When you send an email attachment to your Kindle free email address, it will only go through to your Kindle once you connect to a WiFi access point. Bypassing the 3G network is how you can transfer documents for free. (See Transferring, Downloading, and Sending Files to Kindle)

Why get the Kindle 3G+WiFi?

I can manually trigger Instapaper downloads from the actual website using the built-in experimental web browser.

If I need turn-by-turn or text directions, I can access Google Maps wherever I have a 3G signal.

Getting content (other than books) on the Kindle

There are three methods you may use to download content on your Kindle:

  • USB cable (free)
  • your_email@free.kindle.com (free if you’re connected via WiFi)
  • your_email@kindle.com ($0.15/delivery via Amazon’s Whispernet)

I use Windows 7 Professional 64-bit. So far, I’ve used the following software and services:

  • Wordcycler – two-way Instapaper sync for Windows and your e-book reader
  • Calibre – open source e-book management software
  • Instapaper – a simple tool to save web pages for reading later

I’ve used Instapaper since January 2008.2

Since I have over 200 items to read in Instapaper, I’m saving Wordcycler for later.3

Calibre is the Swiss Army knife of e-book management. While the UI isn’t the prettiest, it’s an incredible piece of software.

Unlike Wordcycler, Calibre won’t automatically archive Instapaper items once you’ve read/deleted it on your Kindle. So, I’m manually reading the article listing on the Kindle, and simultaneously archiving them at the Instapaper website (on my computer). It’s a kludge, I know.

You can also schedule Calibre to automatically download items (especially from Instapaper) to your computer, then email them to your Kindle.

At the moment, Instapaper doesn’t support using the free Kindle email address. Calibre does. But, the $0.15/MB fee is cheaper than leaving my computer powered on at home.

By the way, you’ll be surprised at the small filesize of Instapaper deliveries. (20 items seems to be the max, and my latest delivery was 268 KB.)

I’d say the cost of running a dedicated (always on) computer to fetch Instapaper items is more expensive than an automatic daily delivery through Instapaper + Amazon Whispernet. If you transfer 1 MB/day, here’s the math broken down:

  • 1 year: $54.75
  • 1 month: $4.57
  • 1 week: $1.05

And, you can email your Instapaper account!

You can email links or forward long email messages, such as newsletters, directly to your Instapaper account. Each account has its own secret, random email address. Anything sent to that address gets added to Instapaper.

Try forwarding your most recent painfully long email message to it now, or send a link from any computer or iPhone app that can email links. (Instapaper Extras)

Problem: I’m not sure if Instapaper will keep sending items to my Kindle if they haven’t been archived.

For instance, I’m going to Philadelphia and New York next week for one week. If I enable the option to have items sent to me daily, and I don’t have a computer to archive the read items, will I keep getting duplicate content? (Yes, I’ll email Marco.)

Android app: Instafetch

When I get an Android phone4, Instafetch is another option to help save items to Instapaper, mainly because bookmarklets aren’t supported in the Android web browser.

But, it’s too easy to send an email to your own Instapaper email address from an Android phone. Unless you’re saving stuff into your phone, you don’t need an app.

Stop it, Emily Dickinson

Amazon won’t let me remove her photo from the “screensaver” rotation when you put the Kindle in Sleep mode. Earlier today, I faced my fear and took a photo of her. I was going to include it here, but I changed my mind.

Just search for “Emily Dickinson Kindle” with Google Images.

PDF documents?

I haven’t tried any.

Bonus tip: Instapaper + Google Reader

The Instapaper bookmarklet(s) will also function while in Google Reader. It takes the permalink of the item you’ve selected. (Also, see “Can You Read Anything with the Kindle? Almost . . . with Google Reader” by FilterJoe.)

Additional resources

I wrote some of this like a supplement to the following:

Please share your thoughts on the Kindle in the comments. No flame wars, please.

Update: Added Kindle 3 First Impressions written by Marco Arment.

  1. If you don’t know about RSS, see Common Craft’s super simple and informative video, “RSS in Plain English.” Looking to subscribe to someone else? View my Google Reader Shared Items. 
  2.  The oldest item I’ve saved is from January 28, 2008. 
  3.  I had some errors, but rather than trying to troubleshoot, I’ll see if a lower number of items helps. 
  4. Late December 2010 or early January 2011. 

Loving Instapaper

I started using Instapaper the first day it was released. It does a much better job by helping me better maintain the stuff I want to read later. (No, I don’t think browser bookmarks are good for this because they’ll get out of control.)

I was using del.icio.us to tag items I want to look at later, but those haven’t gotten touched for a long time.