Warby Parker sponsors Atavist e-single, offering free reads on the web for a month

Here’s a cool twist in payment models for long-form content: Trendy online eyeglasses company Warby Parker is sponsoring an e-single at publishing startup The Atavist. Through the partnership, you can read Joshuah Bearman’s “Coronado High” free on the web for a month. It’s normally $2.99.

“We worked with Warby to build some really cool interactive sponsorship integration into the story design,” Atavist cofounder and CEO Evan Ratliff told me. “It’s a first. We’re taking a piece of long-form content and letting an advertiser sponsor the ability for readers to get it for free.”

Warby Parker’s sponsorship of the story on the web is unobtrusive: As you scroll through it, an eyeglasses icon in the bottom left of the screen reveals quirky facts about Warby Parker products (I added the arrow):

warby parker atavist

“Coronado High” is the story of a 1970s pot-smuggling operation that began at a California high school, and its author, Joshuah Bearman, also wrote theĀ Wired story that inspiredĀ Argo. George Clooney’s film company has already optioned “Coronado High,” which The Atavist published in July. The Atavist is paying Bearman royalties on the web version of the story from the money that Warby Parker provided for the partnership, and non-web, text-only versions of the story — Kindle (s AMZN), iPad (s AAPL) and so on — still cost $1.99.

“This is not an overall shift to advertising,” Ratliff said. “We’re still paid and likely always will be, but this is just something we’re experimenting with fitting into a reader-supported model…as long as we make sure that the writers are getting paid for it, it works for us.”

Ratliff noted that anyone who bought “Coronado High” through the website before today will receive a coupon to get another Atavist story for free.