Platform: iOS 6 or later
I have to admit, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about long-form reading and whether or not the websites and apps devoted to this format have a draw for some teens. The idea of long-form reading isn’t new. The resurgence of the idea is due to the use and proliferation of mobile devices – tablets, smartphones, and so on. So what is long-form: short stories and longer non-fiction. Magazine articles, some newspaper articles, some web articles fit into this category. So do the materials published by Amazon as Kindle Singles.
In my mind for teens who are carrying around devices long-form makes a lot of sense. And, an app like Byliner is a good way to connect teens to this reading. (By the way there is also a Byliner website.)
The way Byliner works is that when you open the app the first screen shows recommended reading based on what you’ve selected previously, saved previously, etc. Of course if it’s the first time using the app the screen won’t be based on your interests. The recommendations grow over time.
The key to using Byliner with teens, and adults, I think is in the way that it’s possible to hone in on what you want to read at any given moment or want to save for future reading. There’s a sidebar to the app that lists categories of content – fiction, crime, mystery, comedy, and so on. From that sidebar you make a selection and a list of articles and stories is generated. At the top of the list is the question, “How much time do you have?” and then a list of timeframes: 5-10 mins, 10-20mins, 20+min. This is great! Tap on one of the timeframe options and there you’ll see long-form content that should take around that amount of time to read within the category previously selected.
There’s a “Nightstand” where stories that you save are stored. And the list in the Nightstand includes the time the long-form content is supposed to take to complete.
Think about how useful that is within the mobile environment and within the teen environment. A teen is waiting for friends to arrive at a movie. He or she has about five minutes of time to spare. Open up Byliner and read one of those five minute stories saved in the Nightstand.
Stories saved in the Nightstand synch with a user’s account across devices so they are easily accessible no matter where a teen is and what device he or she is using.
As I said above, I’ve been thinking a lot about how long-form content supports teen reading. And, I’ve been thinking a lot about how long-form content might be perfect for connecting reluctant readers to interesting content that they might not easily find in traditional sources. With the addition of reading times included in Byliner it seems to me that you could connect teens to materials in a new way that fits with their lifestyles and busy schedules.