In the last couple weeks Amazon rolled out a “Send to Kindle” button that would let readers of websites, including WordPress blogs (via a plugin), send a post or article to their Kindle for reading at some point in the future.
Similarly, Pocket has introduced a “Save to Pocket” that can be added to blogs and sites in the same manner as a “Tweet” or “Share” button that lets people save a story to Pocket so they can dive in and read down the road.
Both of these tools operate under the assumption that while the reader may be busy now they will have the time to read/watch/view it in the near future. What strikes me about this is that this is exactly what RSS is good at; time-shifted reading with the option to save something for later when you have more time to digest it. But both of these tools are acknowledgements that the flow of information is different now and are meant to adapt to this new reality. Instead of subscribing to a bunch of RSS feeds people may be reading more on Twitter. So after clicking a link someone has shared there can bring them to a page that looks interesting and, via one of these buttons (or browser bookmarklets for Pocket and other tools), save it for when they’re on the train or elsewhere with time to read it more fully.
Flipboard, which recently rolled out new functionality allowing people to create their own magazines filled with constantly updated curated content you think is interesting, also plays in this space, bringing together stories you haven’t had a chance to read yet. That one obviously takes the next step and feeds your vanity by allowing others to subscribe to and follow your thought leadership in addition to acting as a repository for stuff you just want to read yourself.
If I were to guess I’d say the “read it later” industry is poised for a bit of innovation as companies compete to be people’s preferred option for time-shifted reading. As media consumption patterns continue to shift and change there will be companies that will want to be the ones that most easily facilitate that new reading workflow.