If you’re at all like me, and you have limited time to surf the internet, but unlimited curiosity, you’ll inevitably come across articles in your daily browsing that you’d like to read but just don’t have the time for when you encounter them. There are a number of less than ideal solutions to this problem. I used to bookmark articles with the intent of reading them later and would end up with bookmark overload. Or I’d keep them in mind and then promptly forget about them until weeks later when I would think to myself – “self, I think I saw an article about that once.” I needed a solution that allowed me to store the articles for later use – like lying on the couch at home, or visiting the, um, “reading room.”
It turns out that there is a solution to that problem, and its name is Instapaper.
Instapaper is, at its most basic, a website that allows you to save articles for later reading. You begin by creating an account and adding a bookmarklet to the bookmark bar of your favorite browser. Then, as you wander across things that you’d like to read later, Instapaper scans through the article and very intelligently saves a lightweight text version of that article to your account. You can later come back to the Instapaper site to read the article in full – either through your standard browser or through the mobile browser on your favorite smart phone.
However, the full power of Instapaper becomes evident when you download the iPhone/iPod or iPad reader. These very handy applications download the text of your article to your mobile device, which allows you to then read wherever and whenever you actually have time to read, and in a very comfortable manner. It is, like the application suggests, your very own instant newspaper.
The application remembers your place in each article as you switch between apps and between articles, and then, when you’re finished, you can move an article from your “Read Later” list to your “Archived” list. You can even create folders to sort your “ideas to work into a book” from your “articles about funny animals.”
Instapaper also has a beta Kindle and ePub file that can be downloaded and synched to your device, as well as a “print” version for those so technically inclined.
I highly recommend Instapaper as a service. The website is free, and there is a free version of the iPhone app, though it is limited to 10 articles at a time. The full version of the iPhone/iPad universal app is only $4.95 – a sum I consider very well spent, considering the amount of use I get from it. Instapaper is officially one of the Things I Like, and I bet you’ll like it, too.