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Byliner Hits a Rough Patch as Co-Founder Resigns

One of the most prominent companies in the much-hyped niche of long-form narrative publishing has hit a rough patch, with its co-founder and editor-in-chief departing amid investor efforts to find a new path for the company.

Launched in 2011 as a digital publisher of top-shelf non-fiction stories that were shorter than books but longer than traditional magazine articles, Byliner was among a small wave of companies that hoped to capitalize on the emergence of the iPad and other technologies to sell new forms of narrative writing. It achieved early notoriety with original work from top authors such as Jon Krakauer.

But the company appears to have struggled with the business model, shifting from the sales of individual stories to an increasingly low-priced subscription model. On Monday, Byliner co-founder Mark Bryant, a celebrated magazine editor, told associates in an email obtained by The Information that he was stepping down as editor-in-chief of the company.

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In an interview with Xconomy early last year, Mr. Tayman of Byliner said some writers were making as much as $100,000 from Byliner titles, but that the move to subscriptions was needed to remove “friction” from the process of buying electronic books. The company was doing “exceedingly well,” he said, touting in particular the social media tools that helped authors build a close relationship with readers.

—Jessica Lessin contributed to this story.


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The investment dollars helped make Byliner one of the most potent of a new group of digital publishers that have given hope to book devotees and others who fear that quality narrative writing is being squeezed out in the era of Twitter.

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