Readability is kicking off their brand new service today with some significant changes. Most notably: their membership subscription model.

You can become a subscribing member to Readability for $5/month or more. And as a member, 70% of your subscription payment gets divided up and given to the sites you read using Readability. If you invoke the Readability button on a site to or save it to your Reading List then that domain name is earmarked and the publisher of that site gets a portion of your subscription payment. If you’re a publisher, in order to get paid by Readability you have to opt in and register your domain.

Moreover, Readability now has a mobile app which was custom built by Marco and is based heavily on Instapaper. And Marco will soon be hooking Instapaper itself to your account on Readability so that publishers you read in Instapaper will receive credit as well. Meaning, in the near future, if you want to support the sites you read you don’t have to quit using Instapaper.

Readability’s subscription model is a fantastic idea. I’ve already signed up.

However, I’m curious how the model will pan out for supporting the smaller, independent publishers. It seems to me that the sites which I most want my 70% subscription payment to go to are the sites which are already optimized for reading on the web. Or, put another way, the sites I am least likely to read using Readability are exactly the sites I want to support.

February 1, 2011