I had heard of Newspaper Club because they came in to the Guardian (my workplace) a while back to talk about what they do – they are a service that allows you to design and print your own newspaper. I stumbled across PaperLater – Newspaper Club’s new service – last week and signed up for an invitation to the beta programme.
PaperLater lets you send them links to web articles and turn them into a single copy of your own personal newspaper. Their software automatically does the layout and decides how many pages each article will take up. Your newspaper can be up to a maximum of 24 pages and each issue costs £5 inc p&p. They deliver in the UK (only) via Royal Mail and it took 5 days for me to get my copy (including a weekend, otherwise it would have come through sooner).
Here are some observations:
- the newspaper is tabloid size, think the Sun / Mirror
- the paper it is printed on is whiter and thicker than, say, the Guardian (the other newspaper I have to hand)
- the text looks like the same size as in the Guardian, but it is more widely spaced so is easier to read
- the print quality is good
- the layout of the articles is basic but clean – it will normally take the web article’s first or main picture and use that in the layout
- there is the odd gap on some pages where the text doesn’t quite fill up the page – this looks a bit strange but can’t really be helped. I don’t know if it would fill up the remainder of a page if it had another short article that would fit in the gap as I have chosen to print only a few longer pieces rather than many shorter ones
- some articles include text content that doesn’t appear in the main text of the article – for example, captions to pictures that feature in the web article but not in the printed version. I guess that this will improve over time as their software matures, and I suppose that it is better to include the content rather than miss out something that people expect to see there.
This would be good if you want to read long-form content from the web but do not feel comfortable getting your phone / tablet / laptop out in a public place. It is ideal if you are a frequent flyer as there is no chance that the authorities will confuse it for something more explosive or if you are a holiday-maker and don’t fancy getting sand in the Lightning port of your iPhone. No-one is likely to pinch it when you are in the swimming pool, although if the articles you printed are particularly good then you never know…
Overall, it is hugely impressive that this is actually possible now. Some of my articles were very long so the prospect of reading them on a screen of any size was daunting – this is much more convenient. I will definitely be doing this again and could see it becoming something I do monthly if there is enough content to include.