There’s a new website that just launched, and it’s for us CNFers, yo! The site is Byliner.com, and it’s actually a subsidiary of Byliner Originals. Byliner Originals is like a publishing house, sort of. You can go there to purchase “singles,” like Jon Krakauer’s Three Cups of Deceit, the book about author Greg Mortensen’s alleged misdeeds, which was apparently available free on the site for a number of days. They’re called Byliner Originals. Another one is William T. Vollmann’s Into the Forbidden Zone, an account of his venture into the nuclear hot zone in Japan after the earthquakes. It’s not self-publishing, though, the singles are editor-curated, as are the articles and narrative at Byliner.com.
I only just heard about it, but it’s billed as the Pandora of narrative nonfiction, so of course I’m interested. It’s an archive of what they call “long-form” nonfiction, which I am not sure of, but which I assume is both/either new journalism or personal essays. You know, New Yorker style nonfiction. You can search by author, for instance type in William Finnegan and you can get previews of any number of articles / essays. You can either go to the source and read the whole thing, or save it to read later. If you do save it, it catalogs your wants. You can also search by category, such as Arts, Politics, Crime, Sports, and more. Also, say you looked up Susan Orlean. You could then search within that search to find out if she wrote anything about boxing. The idea is to that, by finding writers we admire, we are able to read more of their work in one place, as well as finding authors who write about similar things or in a similar tone. You’re able to comment on the nonfiction pieces, as well. There’s apparently talk of opening it up to older, pre-20th century nonfiction too, though some think the site is perhaps too ambitious or, perhaps, too narrow. Sarah Lacy over at TechCrunch says: “I just don’t think people are sitting around waiting for more long-form pieces to read. If you’re like me you already have a stack of books you are trying to find time to get through and stacks back issues of the New Yorker, the Economist and Vanity Fair are taking over your house.” But I don’t think that’s true. At least, I don’t have years of the New Yorker and Vanity Fair. But it’s not like I don’t want to read those articles, so for me, as long as a paywall isn’t involved (and I can’t decipher yet if it is), or even if it is at select sources, the site is pretty amazing. I haven’t read a lot of New Journalism, but I dig what I’ve read, like Joan Didion and Gay Talese, and I want to read more, here, at home. So I actually am sitting around trying to find more long-form nonfiction to read. Now I’m going to go find some more authors to follow. Has anyone else checked this out?