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Sunday, January 24, 2010

Must have utility for all Kindle users, Instapaper.com

Instapaper is a web site and set of web API's that let you collect web pages that you are interesting in reading but would rather read at a later time then when you run across them. Developed by a smart guy, Marco Arment, the lead developer of useful blogging web app, tumblr.com .

The basic concept of this web app is not new, that being to grab the content of a web page and format it for easy reading at a later time. What makes Instapaper a real winner for Kindle owners, is its ability to let you collect a set of web pages and create a Kindle subscription that can either be wireless sent to your Kindle [note: Amazon will charge a small fee to the Kindle owner for this delivery] or the Instapaper web site has a function that will create the Kindle subscription and allow you to download it in an ebook format [mobi] that you can transfer to your kindle using the USB connection to your computer, saving you from the Amazon transfer charge.

Instapaper has a number of other features both for collecting web, RSS, Twitter and other sources of stuff you want to read and for reading the content. There is an iPhone reader application for example.

Circling back to Kindle users, I purchased my Kindle DX as much to read PDF and other content that I am overwhelmed with as for its ability to store books. And Instapaper is fantastic extension that allows me to use the excellent Kindle content display features for a broader range of things that I would like to read.

Instapaper is still a new project and is evolving rapidly. And I am sure the possible big Apple tablet announcement next week will shape the landscape for this type of application considerably. But so far in my initials tests of sending web pages to my Kindle, it has performed very solidly. There is not cost for the Instapaper service at this time. Other than the Amazon fees noted above, of which I do not believe Mr. Arment received any part.

The application uses intelligent web server logic to figure out what is the primary content that you want to read and removes the other content that is on most web pages. An interesting aspect of this applications are web ads. It does bring along some web ads to the Kindle. And I do not think that is a bad thing, content creators need to get paid for their work and the ad model is clearly one way that can happen. I've been reading magazines and newspapers with ads in them all my life, it is part of the deal. This aspect of Marco's application might be a real benefit for him to increase the functions of Instapaper and make some money doing it. As well to get content creators happy with Instapaper scraping together their articles.

I am certain there are going to be a number of interesting applications on the Kindle in the next months as Amazon opens up its architecture to make it competitive with the higher function tablet computers like the rumored Apple tablet. The Kindle is a wonderful targeted product and applications like Instapaper that extend its ability to do it core function are the really must have apps.

Give Instapaper.com a try, I think you will like it.

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