Byliner, a new website for readers and writers

Print magazines may be struggling but the founders of Byliner, a new website, believe there is an audience and a business opportunity online for long-form journalism.

Byliner.com, which launched in beta, or test, mode on Tuesday, is building a social network for readers and writers - and a publishing business - around magazine articles.

The website offers links to more than 32,000 magazine stories from around 750 publications and nearly 3,000 writers, including some of the best known names of the past 100 years.

It features long-form work by current scribes such as Christopher Hitchens, Jon Krakauer and Michael Lewis but also articles by literary legends such as Ernest Hemingway, Norman Mailer and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Browsing the site by writer's name, topic or publication, a Byliner user can find stories penned by Ernest Hemingway for The Toronto Star in 1918 or an article written by Norman Mailer for Life magazine in 1971 on the Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier bout.

Byliner, however, is aspiring to be much more than just an index for digital copies of old magazine articles.

The site is also publishing original works from current writers, offering curated reading lists and tools that allow users to submit and share stories.

"What we want to do is to give readers the opportunity to discover and read stories that they wouldn't necessarily have found," Byliner founder and chief executive John Tayman told AFP.

Byliner focuses on what Tayman calls narrative feature nonfiction, stories of between 10,000 and 35,000 words that "fall between what a conventional magazine piece is and what a conventional book is."

"That's really the genesis of the company," said Tayman, a former editor and writer at Outside and Life who also authored "The Colony."

"I began thinking about the hole in the market between magazines and books."

The vast majority of Byliner's articles are free but the San Francisco-based startup is also commissioning stories and publishing them as "Byliner Originals."

The site created a buzz earlier this year with a piece written by Krakauer, the author of "Into Thin Air" and "Into the Wild," about Greg Mortenson, the author of the best-selling "Three Cups of Tea."

Krakauer's expose, which was offered for free for 72 hours ahead of Byliner's official launch, revealed mismanagement at Mortenson's nonprofit charity, the Central Asia Institute, and that a number of the incidents depicted in his book never happened.

Krakauer's story, "Three Cups of Deceit," is available on the Byliner website for $2.99, along with other "Byliner Originals" such as a story by William Vollmann about visiting Japan's nuclear evacuation zone, also for $2.99.

"We develop ideas and then put these great stories in the hands of great writers," Tayman said. "We pay an assignment fee to the writer and then we do a simple, very transparent 50-50 revenue share."

Visitors to Byliner can click on links at the bottom of a writer's page to buy their books directly from Amazon and the Byliner CEO said he will eventually be adding magazine subscriptions.

"There'll be one-click easy access to subscribe to a publication if it has an iPad app," Tayman said.

He said he expects the majority of Byliner's revenue to come from sales of "Byliner Originals" but the site is also counting on affiliate revenue and "some very careful sponsored advertising."

Byliner is also taking a page from Pandora, the Internet radio that creates personalized radio stations for users based upon their favorite artists or songs.

"They do a very good job of helping listeners discover new songs and new artists," Tayman said of Pandora. "We want to do something very similar. We want to help readers discover new writers and new great writing.

"We're building a recommendation system so that you can use your affinity, your like, of a particular writer or a particular article to have new writers and new articles discovered for you and placed in front of you," he said.

Writers themselves will contribute to the recommendation engine.

If a reader has indicated, for example, that they like the work of Mark Bowden, author of "Blackhawk Down," new articles by Bowden will appear in a user's "activity stream," Tayman said.

"And if Mark Bowden shares or submits an article he's discovered his discovery will appear in your stream," he said.

"You can use your favorite authors, their tastes and their reading habits to discover new writing... And you can do a similar thing with your fellow readers."

So as not to fall afoul of publishers and copyright law, Byliner does not publish the full text of an article on its own site but only a small taste, "enough for people to see that this is a great article," Tayman said.

"We point readers to the magazine website itself," he continued. "As our traffic grows, Byliner's going to be driving a lot of traffic to the source publications."

Arts and Entertainment
Chloe-Jasmine Whicello impressed the judges and the audience at Wembley Arena with a sultry performance
TVReview: Who'd have known Simon was such a Roger Rabbit fan?
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

TV
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne modelling

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars with Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders II

TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam