Every few days, I see a tweet about the latest edition of somebody or other's Paper.li publication. Occasionally, something I've written shows up in one, and I appreciate that. But do I ever read them? Well, I haven't yet.

Paper.li looks kinda cool -- you mash up all the interesting stuff you've been reading, organize it by topic, and make it look like a newspaper. But there are several flaws in the publishing model.

Boring Headlines

Blogging and copywriting experts hammer on the importance of engaging headlines all the time. The headlines in a Paper.li publication may be engaging, but what's not is the typical tweet announcing a new edition.

"The XYZ Daily is out!"

So what?

I'm sure there are a million new publications out around the world today. Why should I spend any of my precious time on this one? I can see 20 more enticing headlines in my feed reader at this very moment. "The XYZ Daily is out," is about as boring as headlines get.

No Focus

The typical Paper.li publication contains a mix of a bunch of different topics. Some may be interesting to me. Others aren't. So to find the interesting stuff, I'd have to go sifting through the page.

The whole point of reading curated content is that somebody else is sifting through content and just giving you the best bits. They may very well have done a great job of that on 10 different topics, but when they combine 10 topics on one page, and I'm not interested in all of them, they've just undone everything they'd accomplished.


Paper.li publications look awfully cluttered to me. 'nuf sed.

Too Much All At Once

Even if each edition were introduced with a great headline, were focused on one topic, and the layout were clean and easy to read, I'd rather get my news in bite-sized servings than all in one big lump.

Reader Comment:
James said:
@Chuck Woo '4) Did I mention Paper.li is Free content?' As a publisher this is just what I dont like about paper.li We have 10 twitter users who add our blog posts to their daily paper.li and I'm starting to ask myself, what's the difference b...
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I'd like to be able to bookmark the individual stories that interested me rather than the whole page.

I'd rather be able to link to the individual stories that I think my readers will like.

The Better Alternative

What I'd much prefer is a system where you recommend individual stories with their own headlines, and where, when you publish something of your own (or a commentary on somebody else's content), you tell me about it one story at a time, with it's own headline.

Sound familiar?

Twitter for linking to individual stories. Your own blog for content you write.

Paper.li is like digitizing a print publication and putting it online. The problem is that there are other formats for publishing online that take better advantage of the capabilities of the medium.