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 Longreads.com."

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.

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