Time again for the yearly1 bug fix release:
min article view submits article content to fuckyeahmarkdown.com and displays the article content in markdown text
yarchives, for fellow Fastmail users
klooping through list to, added
ggto navigate to top/bottom, vim-style
Kind of a joke but not really. ↩
I’ve finally been able to fix some long time bugs and test them out to make sure I’m not introducing any new ones:
I introduced Paperback to the public one year ago today. In the last year since this launched, many other services have started, exploded in popularity, sold out, or shut down. Yet Paperback is still in its infancy. In the last year, it’s had decent uptime and relatively little support needs. It has also been slow moving in feature development but plans to be around for a long time.
One change I want to announce on it’s first birthday is that Paperback will go from a yearly subscription model to a one time fee.
From the start, subscriptions have been a bit confusing for customers and most support requests I see are about subscriptions.
Coming up to the 1 year mark meant subscriptions were about to renew. As with most services, only a small percentage of overall users and customers are actively using the site on a regular basis and I didn’t want to take “lazy tax” money from people who kept forgetting to cancel subscriptions for a service they weren’t using anymore. Nor did I want to an increase in support requests from people who wanted refunds for the automatic subscription.
It seemed like the best way to go for both customers and myself was to change to a one time fee and cancel any automatically renewing subscriptions from current customers.
But what about ongoing server costs with only a one time payment from users? It doesn’t cost too much per month to run my servers, so the income from the one time fee covers enough costs to operate. When I first launched Paperback, I didn’t know how quickly it would grow, how customers would receive paying for a service, or how much the server costs would be to handle the
n number of customers I would get in my first days, weeks, and months. Now I have a pretty good idea of these things and and have adjusted things to the best experience for everybody. Even if no new customers sign up, there’s enough money in the bank right now to run the servers for 3+ years at the current costs.
If you’re an existing customer, thank you. You should see no change in service nor should you be charged again. If you do receive an email saying you’ve been charged for your subscription, please reply to the email and let me know so I can refund you.
I’ve always like Trello. I’ve used it for many projects and enjoyed the flexibility it offered. After reading about how to use Trello as a public product roadmap, I thought that that idea would be a good fit for Paperback. If you look back at the introduction of Paperback last October, I wrote this:
This isn’t a “startup”, it’s a thing that I work on in my free time. I don’t want it to become a full-time job but I do want a respecting relationship between me and you, my customer.
Many startups wouldn’t dare post their roadmap publicly. It’s their secret. But out of respect of you and to help you help me make a better product, I’ve created a public roadmap for Paperback on Trello. I’d love for you to participate by commenting or voting on feature requests or issues you’d like to see addressed. The public can’t add cards or lists to the board but if there’s something you’d like to see on the roadmap, please email me.
In my last post, The Obvious and The Future, I mentioned reworking the Paperback stack to be less tightly coupled. Well, that’s live now and even though it took a while to get there, I’m happy with what I’ve got. I’ve broken apart the pieces in to their own stronger services. From a high-level, Paperback now (mostly) runs off it’s own API, uses a much better and more customizable parser, and the web interface is a client-side web app which makes it snappy quick.
Interface updates: Tighter looking, less unnecessary buttons, more buttons where you need them. KISS.
Inline editing: As I was iterating the design of the interface, I thought a lot about the article page feeling a lot like text on paper. On paper, you can cross out, erase, write on, and change what’s in front of you with out going in to a “mode.” I wanted to get as close to that as possible. In this new version, you can edit the title and description/notes in place without having to go in to an edit mode.
I also learned that people using Paperback were taking a lot of notes while reading articles. To make this easier, I changed the Tag and Archive modal in to a sheet that—on desktop at least—sits at the bottom of the page when open, making it easy to type out notes while staying out of the way of the article text.
On desktop, bring up the edit sheet by hitting
i (insert mode, like vim), or click the bookmark icon along the left side (at the top and bottom on mobile). Edit mode is still modal on iPhone and iPad because of screen size and annoying bugs in Mobile Safari.
You can add a selection to the notes but selecting text and hitting
t (now just lower case t, unlike the previous version).
Making things a bit easier on mobile: We’re in development of the native version using the stable API. A few small new/better things on mobile:
minimul-uiin iOS 7 Mobile Safari to hide the chrome and give you more room to read
Some other cool things/things I’m happy about:
s), if they haven’t already been fetched and parsed, you’ll see the grey bar load in to indicate that it’s ready and show the relative length of the article
A thing I’m not happy about: I had to pull tag typeahead out to get this shipped. I tried several times and just couldn’t get an implementation that I was happy with. This release cycle started stretching out really long and I didn’t want to go longer without an update so decided to ship without it. Sorry. I love that feature and will try to get it back in as soon as possible.
The way the web app is built now will enable quicker development of features like easier navigation between articles and sorting/filtering/group articles in something that might look kind of like Smart Folders. The API is the foundation that allows us to build the iOS app and other cool utilities.
Thanks again for using Paperback and hope you like the new bits.
I wanted to give a bit of an update on Paperback, now a couple months old.
What I launched initially was a very simple “blank slate” concept and I’ve been listening to how people use it and understanding more about how I myself have been using it to help decide where I want to go with product development.
The only way to get a great reading experience on iPhone and iPad (the device I like reading on the most) is with a native iOS app. Today I loaded up the first development build in the iOS simulator. There’s still a ways to go with it but work is getting done on it.
The desktop web is an important part for Paperback. Already there are some slick features for power users and people are using Paperback for real research and work at their desks rather than just reading for pleasure.
I think I have a pretty solid feature set in my head for 1.0 of a universal iOS app but if you’d like, send me some thoughts on what you want to see in it.
Thank you for using Paperback and all the kind things you’ve had to say since launch. This is the first time I’ve pushed any new features since launch six weeks ago because I wanted to pull back and watch how people were using it and then get my hands back into development with fresh eyes.
<title>so you can more easily recognize what you’re reading and find in tabs
The subscriptions from paying customers so far means that server costs should be covered for the growth and architecture changes that I’m expecting for the first year which means I don’t have to worry about how to pay my bills and can focus on building a service that you can use every day.
As always, email me with any support needs, concerns, or questions.
After about three months since my first prototype, I’m happy to introduce you to Paperback. Paperback is a clean and simple way to read Pinboard articles later. Paperback is a fully responsive web app with a simple experience on both desktop and mobile. If you’re not familiar with Pinboard, it’s a bookmarking service that lets you save URLs, tag them, and if you’ve upgraded, archive them so you have a permanent, offline store of every link you’ve saved.
I started building Paperback because I wanted the reading experience of Instapaper but with the reliable archival system of Pinboard. Paperback gives you a nice clean reading list and article view, free of distraction, keyboard navigation that rocks if you’re on a desktop, and powerful tools for tagging and archiving your articles back into Pinboard’s long term storage.
You can read more about Paperback’s features here.
Since I see Paperback as an extension of the great work that Maciej has been doing with Pinboard, it shares many of the same values:
Paperback costs $15 a year. [Update: As announced on August 3, 2014, Paperback will become a one time fee for the service rather than a yearly subscription.] It’s unapologetically a paid service which allows me to make it a sustainable service. I want it to exist for a long time. This isn’t a “startup”, it’s a thing that I work on in my free time. I don’t want it to become a full-time job but I do want a respecting relationship between me and you, my customer. That means that you pay me for a service because you think it’s valuable and I maintain a service that you can trust. It being a paid service also constrains growth so that I don’t have to “scale” to support freeloaders.
Because it’s not a full-time gig and with that respect thing I mentioned above, I want to make sure I set some expectations: