Goodbye, Google Reader: What a writer wants in RSS readers

google-readerOn July 1, 2013, Google is shutting down its RSS service, Reader.

That’s a sad fact for the millions of us who use it as the way to gather, organize, and keep track of our blog and news feed subscriptions.

Google Reader is my treasure chest of information for new writers — a constant stream of information, inspiration, and advice that flows into an easy-to-read list.

It’s not flashy, and I like it that way. The simple interface lets me see titles so that I know immediately what is worth my time to read now, save for later, or send to the trash can.

But Google was seeing a “loyal but declining following, and they wanted to focus on fewer products.” So they’ve given us until the end of June to take our data and move it or lose it. (Source: Wikipedia, Google Reader.)

We must say goodbye to a great tool, but is there anything out there good enough to take its place?

Features of a Good RSS Reader

WordPress.com notified its members about the easy switch from Google Reader to the WP Reader. I’m a member, but I won’t be using its reader for long. It doesn’t have a fraction of the features Google Reader offers. And what should a good reader offer?

Preferably everything that Google Reader does:

  • The front page lets you see new items at a glance.
  • Scrolling gives an automatic marking of items as “read”
  • Choice between list view or expanded view for item viewing (showing either just the story title or including a description)
  • Ability to import and export subscription lists
  • Search function
  • Share, email, and add tag options
  • Add to Buffer option (love this app!)
  • Subscribe to feeds from within the reader
  • Web-based for access from any device

Google Reader has more features, but those are the minimum requirements I’m looking for in a new reader.

5 Alternatives to Google Reader

Over the next few weeks I’ll be searching for a Google Reader replacement. Here’s a list of the RSS feed readers that I plan to put to the test.

  1. feedly. The boast from feedly on their home page: “More than 3,000,000 Google Reader users have switched to feedly.” Yes, they’ve switched, but they’ve also left thousands of suggestions for improvement. Still, I’ve seen feedly listed as the top choice on most of the articles I’ve read. UPDATE 7/1/13 – I chose feedly.
  2. CommaFeed. Because I like its tagline: “Bloat-free feed reader.”
  3. The Old Reader. This reader came out as an alternative to Google Reader when Google made changes a few years ago that infuriated many of its fans. The developers worked to stay true to the original Google design and features.
  4. NewsBlur. Another top-rated reader, and the home page offers you a test drive without registration, unlike all the others listed here.
  5. Reeder. This app is for Macs only, which is fine because I use both Mac and PC computers. It has a nice-looking interface, as most Mac apps do, but it’s still simple and clean.

So many people love Google Reader that petitions to save it are in circulation, with signatures numbering the hundred-thousands. I won’t go as far as signing one, but I’ll be happy if Google decides to give in to the fans.

On the other hand, I am enjoying how this has sparked a healthy wave of competition, which is forcing them to make improvements to their readers. That’s good news for everyone.

If you use a reader, which one do you recommend? Let me know in your comment.


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6 thoughts on “Goodbye, Google Reader: What a writer wants in RSS readers

  1. I always intended to use a reader, but never got around to it. (Low on my list of prioritites.) So, I’m glad I didn’t take the time to start as there doesn’t seem to be a great one out there right now. I guess I’ll just wait a while and see what happens with the readers and how they improve.

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    1. Readers are definitely not necessities, but they sure are handy for those of us who want to save time, keep things organized, and make sure the content we subscribe to gets read!

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  2. I switched to Feedly because it was super easy to import all my feeds. I like it better than Google Reader and wouldn’t switch back if they decided to stay.

    If I’d seen this when I was debating the switch I would have checked out Reeder, because I love my Mac!

    Very helpful post, as always Darla.

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    1. It’s good to have a positive vote for feedly from someone I know — thanks, Cindy. I’m learning towards it so far, but I don’t like that it requires a browser extension — it’s not web-based. I hear they’re working on it as that is the top complaint. You wouldn’t change back to GR? OK — now I’m really interested in feedly!

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  3. I’ve tried two of the sites you listed above, Darla. I’m embarrassed to say, but the amount of feed coming in addicted me, and I found I had less and less time to actually WRITE and make my deadlines, so I stopped both.
    Let me know which one you change to and how well you like it, and I’ll try again. Thanks for the information; you’re my Go-To person!

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    1. Yes, I can see how dangerous this (and all social media tools) could be for a writer working with deadlines. Sounds like you made the right choice for yourself. I’m not at that point yet, and an RSS reader is a timesaver for me after I put on my writing hat in the evenings. I’ll be sure to write a post with my choice before the end of June.

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