Computers · Frugality

How to Build a Personal Newspaper

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Years ago, my first job was delivering newspapers for the local paper. Well, first if you don’t count selling tomato plant starts door-to-door to the neighbors. I have fond memories of delivering papers in sub-zero degrees early Sunday morning.

Times have changed. For years now, I’ve been building my own personal “newspaper” or “magazine” of long-form articles, using a combination of Feedly, Instapaper, and my Kindle Paperwhite e-book reader. Why? When I come across an interesting article, I often don’t have time to read it immediately so I save them up for reading later.

Inspired by the Frugal Professor’s post on RSS feeds, I thought I’d share my process.

Collecting Articles

Years ago, I used Google’s Reader to collect interesting, long form blog articles. When Google got bored with Reader and shuttered it in 2013, I moved my RSS feed subscriptions to Feedly, which I’ve been using to aggregate my feeds for the past seven years.

In addition to finding articles using Feedly and RSS feeds, I often come across interesting articles that I don’t have the time to read at the moment. These too get tossed into my process.

Save to Instapaper

Instapaper is a service that aggregates the content from urls you provide it. In their own words “Instapaper turns web content – articles, stories, posts, videos, and even long emails – into a great reading experience.”

Straight from Feedly Pro to Instapaper
 

The easy way to pass articles into Instapaper from Feedly is to pay for Feedly Pro. It’s as easy as selecting the “Instapaper” option in the sharing menu.

For articles that I find outside of Feedly, I save the web address directly to Instapaper. The hard way to do this is to copy the article URL and then from Instapaper’s site using the “Add Link” button. 

But that’s the hard way. To make things easier, I have a bookmark in my browser that when clicked, will save whatever page I’m on to Instapaper. You can get the link to build your own bookmarklet, here: https://www.instapaper.com/save

If you choose to follow my example and not get Feedly Pro, you can still use the same bookmarklet, by just opening the links from Feedly into a new browser tab and then hitting the “Read Later” bookmarklet that you created earlier.

Another nifty bookmarklet is the “Instapaper Text” link that when hit, takes the content you’re viewing and then shows you what it would like in Instapaper. This can provide clutter free view of the article you’re trying to read. As an example, this: 

Before Instapaper Text

becomes this:

After Instapaper Text

And if you like how the article looks, you can easily hit the “Save to Instapaper” link in the upper right.

Send To Kindle

The next step is to configure Instapaper to automatically send articles to your Kindle or Kindle App. Setup takes three steps: (1) get your Kindle’s “Send-to-Email” address from Amazon, (2) add the address to Instapaper, then (3) add Instapaper’s address in your permitted Personal Document senders list.

  1. Get Your Kindle’s “Send-to-Kindle” email address. From your Amazon account, lookup the Personal Documents settings. From there you can find the email address for your Kindle or Kindle App. The settings page looks something like this:Amazon Send to Kindle SettingsAs a fun note, you can also email yourself documents, PDFs, etc., to your Kindle’s email address and they will be automatically sent to your Kindle.
  2. Add Your Kindle’s Email Address to Instapaper. Go to https://www.instapaper.com/user, and add your Kindle’s email address that you got in step 1. Configure when you want articles sent to your kindle. If you ever want to short-circuit the scheduled time, you can come in here and hit the “Send Articles Now” to immediately have whatever articles are currently queued up in Instapaper.

    Note the Instapaper’s email address for the next step, step 3.

    Instapaper Send to Kindle settings

  3. Add Instapaper’s address in your permitted Personal Document Email list. To prevent random strangers from spamming your Kindle, Amazon requires senders to be listed in your “Approved Personal Document Senders” list. So here’s where you put in the Instapaper email address from step 2:Allowed Personal Document Email List

Enjoy Reading Your Articles

With everything set up correctly, Instapaper will start sending you articles on the schedule you told it to. These Instapaper article “bundles” look like a mostly-text magazine, complete with a table of contents, navigation helps, and the ability to set bookmarks and everything. They behave mostly like a Kindle book. After I receive a collection of articles, I go into the article bundle and hit the “Archive All” link. This causes Instapaper to bulk send the articles to my Instapaper archive where I can always find them later but prevent them from showing up in future article bundles.

If you choose to pay for Instapaper Premium, you’ll be able to send an unlimited number of articles in a bundle. Otherwise you’ll be restricted to just ten.

Closing Thoughts

Does my process look like a lot of baling wire and duct tape? As I wrote it down, it did look a little complicated. However, it’s set-and-forget.

What is your process for consuming long-form articles? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

Hasta luego!

Reales Alcázares de Sevilla

2 thoughts on “How to Build a Personal Newspaper

  1. This post looks informative but I bailed halfway through. I’m going to have to come back to it with a fresher mind.

    My system is to leave everything marked in Feedly (like this article) as unread until I’ve consumed it to my satisfaction. The one limitation is that I don’t have a good mechanism to save articles I like, but frankly that’s what I use my blog for.

    1. Thanks for the feedback. I agree it looks kinda complicated. Having set it up once, I rarely have to even think about it, but it probably looks scary complicated from the other side.

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