The Sample

Now you can read your bookmarks with The Sample

Jacob O'Bryant
11 Apr 2022

Since The Sample first launched in February 2021, it’s been exclusively a newsletter discovery service. Once per day, we forward a newsletter to you that we think you’ll like, then you tell us how well we picked. The longer you use The Sample, the more the recommendations improve.

Starting today, The Sample is expanding into a read-it-later service. The structure of the app will remain the same, but instead of recommending only newsletters, we’ll also throw in articles and emails that you’ve bookmarked previously. We’ll import your bookmarks from Pocket, and you can forward emails to a unique @readlater.thesample.ai address. To try it out, go to the new Bookmarks tab (you may need to sign in first).

We have a spiffy new landing page to go with it too. Since enabling these new features on my own account last week, I’ve finally arrived at a reading workflow that’s brainless enough to replace my usual impulse to check Twitter:

  1. My default reading destination is my inbox. I read what I feel like, and everything else either gets sent to my @readlater.thesample.ai address or gets archived. I hit inbox zero daily without much effort.
  2. If my inbox is clear, I go to The Sample. I've added a shortcut for it to my phone's home screen (instructions for iOS. It's similar on Android). From there it’s pretty easy... I just read whatever it shows me, or I skip to the next thing.
  3. If anything I read (whether in my inbox, or on The Sample, or elsewhere) links to an article that looks interesting, I save it to Pocket, after which I know it’ll show up eventually in a future reading session on The Sample.

I’ve found it to be a nice balance between serendipity and familiarity. Newsletter discovery has worked far better for me now that it’s mixed in with my other reading. Before last week I honestly didn’t even use The Sample that much myself (too busy coding!)—but now I use it for 1-2 hours every day.

Equally important is that this all works as an enhancement rather than as a replacement for your inbox. We think the email ecosystem is really important, and we want to help strengthen it. More on that in a future essay.

We hope that these new read-it-later features make The Sample useful enough to become a core part of your daily routine, even (especially!) if you don’t already have a strong habit of reading stuff in your inbox. I was in that category myself, and I can attest that it’s been working for me.

As always, you can give us feedback via email, Discord or Twitter.