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Readability ends reader fee program, gives uncollected funds to accessibility and writing charities

TODAY MY FRIENDS at Arc 90 announced that, as of June 30, 2012, Readability will no longer accept reader fees. Further, they will donate any uncollected funds to charities that support reading and writing. They’ll start by donating $50,000 to 826 Valencia and another $50,000 to Knowbility.

Readability has taken a lot of flack, and been accused of all kinds of base motives. The truth is, these people did these things because they love writers, love reading, love the web, and believe content and readers have gotten a raw deal because of the way most websites are designed.

The need to maximize ad revenue accounts for many of those anti-reader decisions, and so the people behind Readability — who love writers and publishers — tried this experiment, seeking a better way to let readers pay for content.

Had it worked, it would have changed our industry for the better, and might have saved small publishers who are drowning in this environment. It didn’t work. Not this year, not at this time. Live and learn and move on.

I salute my friends at Readability for giving a damn about writers, readers, and content and for at least trying to think of a sustainable solution to the problem of who pays for content.

By Jeffrey Zeldman

“King of Web Standards”—Bloomberg Businessweek.

Hi! I’m a principal designer at Automattic, Inc. Also: Publisher and founder, A List Apart “for people who make websites.” Publisher and co-founder, A Book Apart—brief books for people who design, write, and code. Co-founder and co-host, An Event Apart UX & front-end conference. Faculty, MFA Interaction Design, School of Visual Arts, NYC. Host, The Big Web Show. Have written two books, notably ”Designing With Web Standards,“ currently in its 3rd Edition, and, on last count, translated into 15 languages and used as a text in 85 universities.