Believe in Longform? So Does Longreads, Which Just Launched a Member Drive to Boost Profits

Even as writers constantly engaging with the Web and social media to share and search for quality work, it can sometimes be a bother to sift through Internet nonsense and listicles to find great journalism.

Longreads, a curator of narratives both of the fiction and nonfiction variety exceeding 1,500 words, is one of the platforms seeking to alleviate this, and they’re looking to push their reach further and offer extras to their members. The company, founded in 2009, announced Monday an initiative to reach 5,000 paid members. Currently, they’ve only got around 1,000 devotees who contribute $3 a month or $30 a year for all of Longreads’ best curated journalism, represented by media big shots as well as unknown writers — but they’re looking for more.

Unlike some other “streaming reading services,” as we’ll refer to them for our purposes, the main benefit of Longreads — to stumble upon exceptional storytelling that you might not find on your own —  is totally free to users. And Longreads promises it will remain this way for those who choose not to pay for the product.

If you decide to take the plunge, your membership buys you full access to the Longreads site, weekly emails, RSS and Twitter feeds that link directly to the original publishers’ work, editor recommendations of notable publishers and writers across the web, rights to exclusive stories and future expansion of the Longreads service (we don’t yet know what said expansion looks like, but we will soon!), wrote Longreads founder Mark Armstrong Monday.

Given the recent rise in longform popularity, Longreads should be able to meet this goal in order to help sustain their business model. Still, the questions remain: will Longreads continue to prosper even if they meet their member drive goal? Will the #longreads renaissance flourish? And which is the better paradigm for profitable longform: Longreads, Byliner, the Atavist, others?