Blaming the users


I’ve received a fair amount of unhappy emails, posts and comments from people stating that it’s unfair of me to “blame the users” for “Papermill’s lack of sales” after I published my write-up of the its first few weeks. I was initially going to ignore these as misunderstandings and continue development of the app (plenty of bugs to fix!) but it seems to have made people angry to the point of personal attacks. And hey, that’s no fun for anyone, least of all me.

So I’d like to address at least the main problem people have with my breakdown of the first few weeks of Papermill, that way I can at least stop having to respond to emails by hand.


Papermill isn’t stopping development. Unfortunately, a lot of people seem to have misunderstood The Verge and John Gruber’s use of the term ‘post-mortem’, taking it to mean that I was stopping development, rather than as I’m sure it was intended - as a dissection of an event (in this case its launch) after the fact. I’m enjoying developing Papermill far too much to stop anytime soon.

Lack of sales

As I say in the first line of the conclusion:

Media coverage and sales of Papermill have already far exceeded my expectations

Papermill’s sales have far outdone my expectations. My expectations were, and still are, to not make a profit. I’m okay with this. I knew this going in and had, in fact, put personal money aside myself to purchase fonts. I expected a “lack of sales”.[1]

Yet here I am. Go figure.

Blaming the users

My conclusion continues:

If I were to create a ‘freemium’ or ad-based version, the app’s profitability would almost certainly increase but I believe that this would decrease the quality of experience that the app offers and that is rare on the Android market. I think this unhappy end-scenario - of applications that either compromise on quality or have not had the necessary time invested in their design - is as a result of Android users not being willing to pay for an apps whose focus is quality and whose price reflects this.

After this I go into reasoning but really, that’s all I’m trying to say - that it’d be more profitable for me to have put ads in Papermill and that I don’t like ads as I believe they decrease the quality and enjoyment of apps. There’s no “blame” attached. For what? Wanting to purchase a mid-range smartphone? As I say in original article, to my mind its range of price of smartphones is a large part of Android’s core strength. However, I think it’d be nice for the market to reach a size where there are enough users that are willing to buy apps that ads aren’t necessary. That’s it. That’s the whole shebang. And yet somehow, people are offended to the point of angry emails.

In short

Please note that I won’t be responding to any more emails beyond pointing to this link. I simply don’t have enough time to do so.

Alright. Back to developing. Thanks for reading.

- Ryan

  1. Yes, there’s competition in the offline-reading market. Yes, Read-it-later has a great Android app, as do a few others. I’ve used most of them and I really admire the design of at least some of them. And yes, some of them are cheaper. Do check them out. It’s always a great idea to know what else is on the market and whether it’d suit your needs better. I still, however, don’t think these impact my original conclusion.  ↩