Readability CEO Rich Ziade took to the company's blog today to announce the end of reader fees, a controversial system whereby Readability accepted payments from users with the intention of distributing those funds to publishers and content providers. Effective June 30th the service will stop collecting all fees, which were a requirement for premium content in the early days of the app.
But publishers needed to register if they wished to benefit from reader fees, and Ziade isn't shy about deeming that oft-criticized requirement a failure. "Reading behavior on the web is incredibly fragmented," he says, revealing that only 2,000 domains were enrolled in the program compared to "millions" that came through Readability's servers. That led to $150,000 in unclaimed funds, money which the company is hoping it can give to intended recipients. Writers and other content providers who haven't yet registered with Readability yet can do so anytime before July 15th if they'd like to collect reader fees their domain has earned, with all payments scheduled to be doled out by July 31st.
Should money be left over after that deadline — which in all likelihood will be the case — Readability will be donating the cash to non-profit organizations that focus on the creative process. It has already committed to handing out $50,000 to both 826 Valencia and Knowbility. After what Ziade describes as "a hell of a first year," he pledges that Readability will continue to work closely with publishers in the months ahead as it looks to improve its service even further — hopefully in less controversial fashion.