Vacationers, Rejoice! Longreads Now Has a Travel Channel


The curator of long-form writing has a new section -- and a new business model.

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So you're settling into a plane for a long-haul flight. You are in the middle seat. Of a five-seat row. It is going to be a long trip.

Very few things at this point (save a miraculous bump up to first class or the discovery that your seatmate is George Clooney) will make your trip more pleasurable. One of those things, though, is a good, long story to read -- with bonus points if the good, long story is about the place you'll be exploring once you land. From that perspective, today brings good news: Longreads, one of the web's most prominent curators of long-form writing, just launched Travelreads, a new channel meant to help lovers of long-form writing "find and share the best stories about the best places in the world."

In a blog post, Longreads founder Mark Armstrong explains the logic of Travelreads:

One of the coolest things about Longreads is when someone tweets:

"I'm at the airport about to fly to San Francisco / New York / London / India / Argentina. I need some #Longreads for the trip."

This got us thinking: What if we started gathering the best #longreads for every destination in the world?

The project wants to harness that particular collision of awesome that is traveling to a great place and actually having the time to read about that place. "We wanted to think about curating for the moments when you're thinking about planning a trip, boarding a flight, or arriving in a new destination," Armstrong told me -- moments when you're extra-interested in reading about, say, Hemingway's Spain, or Sherlock Holmes's London, or Walt Disney's World. The curated content itself "might be a classic 'travel' story," Armstrong says, "or it might be a short story or magazine piece that's set in a particular city or destination" -- so, "geolocated Longreads, basically."

Longreads staff will do the curating of the channel's stories, but -- true to the service's Web 2.0 form -- "community will play a big part," as well, Armstrong says. "Readers can share stories via #travelreads, and we'll also be interacting with the main #longreads community."

With the new channel -- the first dedicated channel for the service -- Longreads is also launching a new business model: Travelreads is sponsored by Virgin Atlantic. It's an approach, Armstrong says, "that serves both the Longreads community and Virgin Atlantic's community, by doing what we do best -- providing a service that finds the best stuff on the web and links directly to the original publishers' work, on Twitter, on Facebook, and on"

It's also an approach that could signal a (financial) way forward for a service that sprang up, three years ago, as the personal hobby of a guy who wanted a place that would celebrate and aggregate long-form journalism. For a site that exists pretty much entirely to send its users to other sites, a sponsorship scheme makes a lot of sense. And the deal with Virgin could be just the beginning. The telling last line of Armstrong's Travelreads announcement? "If you're a brand and would like to work with Longreads, here's more information on the services we provide."

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Megan Garber is a staff writer at The Atlantic. She was formerly an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab, where she wrote about innovations in the media.

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