Byliner, a new website, is aiming to provide a platform for long-form journalism and believes there is a business opportunity online for this type of content. The website, which launched in beta mode on Tuesday, is building a social network for readers and writers around magazine articles. It currently offers links to over 32,000 magazine stories from around 750 publications and nearly 3,000 writers, including well-known names from the past century. Byliner allows users to browse articles by writer’s name, topic, or publication, making it easy to find stories from famous authors like Ernest Hemingway, Norman Mailer, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. However, Byliner is not just an index for digital copies of old magazine articles. It also publishes original works from current writers, offers curated reading lists, and provides tools for users to submit and share stories.
The focus of Byliner is what founder and CEO John Tayman calls narrative feature nonfiction, which are stories between 10,000 and 35,000 words that fall between a magazine piece and a book. Tayman, a former editor and writer at Outside and Life magazines, came up with the idea for Byliner after realizing there was a gap in the market between magazines and books. While the majority of articles on Byliner are free, the website also commissions and publishes original stories called “Byliner Originals.” These stories, written by renowned authors like Jon Krakauer and William Vollmann, are available for purchase on the site for $2.99 each. Byliner pays an assignment fee to the writer and splits the revenue from sales with them.
In addition to providing access to articles, Byliner allows users to buy books directly from Amazon by clicking on links at the bottom of a writer’s page. Tayman also plans to add magazine subscriptions in the future. The website expects to generate revenue primarily from sales of “Byliner Originals” but also through affiliate revenue and carefully selected sponsored advertising. Byliner is working on building a recommendation system to help users discover new writers and articles based on their preferences and reading habits. Writers themselves will contribute to this system by sharing or submitting articles they have discovered. To avoid copyright issues, Byliner only publishes a small taste of an article on its site and directs readers to the source publication for the full text.
Overall, Byliner aims to provide a platform for long-form journalism and connect readers with high-quality articles from both past and present writers. With its social network features and curated reading lists, the website hopes to attract an audience and create a viable business model for long-form journalism online.