PaperLater uses the printing infrastructure set up by Newspaper Club, which enables people to print original content in newspaper form, to print out stories from the web into a personalised paper that can vary in length from eight to 24 pages.
The lead time between saving stories and having them printed and delivered is three to five days. It’s a long time in the age of cyber content, where words are published faster than anyone can take them all in, but then that is the point. PaperLater does not exist for the latest Buzzfeed list or AP news story, but for the long-form journalism of sites such as Medium and The New York Times.
We already have save-it-for-later apps such as Instapaper and Pocket, so why do we need PaperLater? Is this another battle cry from the wounded print media, that still shout about the power, the tactility and the readability of print? Perhaps. But Newspaper Club presents PaperLater not as a combatant of read-it-later apps but as a compadre. ‘We like screens and we like the internet, but we also enjoy reading all the great writing the web has to offer in a calmer, less distracting format,’ they say in a blog post.
PaperLater seeks to battle the always-on, constant stream of information that the internet engenders. It is an idea that supports New Sublimity thinking – providing a digital detox and screen time relief – while satisfying the unending thirst for information of a generation of digital content consumers.
The project is less about saving print than about taking time to be engaged in one thing. Sure you can put that 42-minute read about the reality behind Orange is the New Black in your virtual Pocket, but what is the likelihood of you reading it on your phone?
Read-it-later apps seem to be filing cabinets for wishful thinking: ‘If I were this kind of person, I would read this, so I will save it for when I have time to digest it.’ But there is never the time, there is always another Buzzfeed quiz to take. What PaperLater does is remove all of the noise surrounding reading digitally. When we read things now, it’s with a brain half in tune to sharing. As we scan the words, we are simultaneously thinking: 'Is this shareable?' 'Should I tweet it?' Reading a story on PaperLater does not mean you won’t share the content, you’ll just share it later.
More than anything, PaperLater stands as a tangible testament of a person’s tastes. This is not a paper you throw away. It is a hallmark of you and your interests at a particular time. And as the internet creates an even more fractured sense of self, we all need a little proof that we are individuals, even if it's just by curating the stories we read in a tactile, more permanent way.
PaperLater is in beta and available in the UK only. Read the latest microtrend by Daniela Walker here.