Longer than a newspaper item but shorter than a book, a magazine article is the ideal length for my attention span. I’d rather spend an hour with a great magazine article rather than read a book any day. Ditto for hopscotching through shallow blogs and newspaper bits. But there are fewer print publications running long form journalism. Ironically, a new website, called Long Form, points to the best long form articles appearing anywhere in print, and also collects the great magazine articles from the past. Long Form fits perfectly into a small ecosystem whereby you can read these great pieces of writing on a Kindle, iPad, or phone. I’ve found the easy-reading portable screens of these tablet devices fit a 1 to 2-hour window perfectly.
Here is how this system works. The Long Form website lists great magazine articles just published as well as past hits from the archives. You mark the articles you want to read, which are then downloaded to your tablet via Instapaper, another website, which has an iPad app and Kindle connection. You can then read the articles, without ads, at your leisure on your gadget. The whole migration is seamless and unconscious.
I mentioned this was an ecosystem. You can also select pieces to read on your tablet or phone directly at Instapaper, which does not specialize in long forms but also includes short pieces. Instapaper’s sister site, The Feature, like Long Form, makes reader selections of the best magazine articles. On both sites you hit a button “Read Later” to move it to your reading device. In fact you can mark any web page to be “read later” from an Instapaper button on your menu bar and it will move it to your tablet, phone, or even RSS feed. And you can send to Instapaper (and therefore to your reading device) any item from your Twitter stream or social apps like Delicious or Digg, Reddit, etc. to be read later on your Kindle or iPad (or computer screen).
However, I prefer to read long form factuals, and so I keep returning to Long Form to find the gems. I particularly enjoy classic great magazine pieces that I missed over the years. In fact, I realized that I’ve never seen a list of the best magazine articles ever, but see no reason not to make one now. If you have a nomination for one of the top 100 magazine articles of all time, please send it to me (with a link if possible). I’ll share what I accumulate on this page here.