Readability disabled its old bookmarklet this afternoon, redirecting the script reference to its new browser applet instead. Rationally, I can see why they would have to do it—if they’re wanting to track pages viewed for the purpose of doling out content payments, they have to channel them through a source that can actually track those views.

But I’m finding that the new applet is considerably less satisfactory than the old bookmarklet for a number of reasons.

The old bookmarklet seemed to do its actual processing on my own computer. This provided a faster response time, and it also meant that the only computer that needed to be able to see what I was reading was my own. Which meant that if my browser could display the page, the script could render it. This includes pages stored on my local hard drive, as well as pages behind password-protection such as Baen Webscription e-books.

The new applet works with neither of those, which means I can’t use it for a number of things I used the old one for. It’s also a good bit slower, since I’m waiting for the page content to come back from Readability’s servers instead of seeing it rendered on my own box.

The old bookmarklet didn’t change the URL of the redirected story, which meant that when I was reading a story that way, I could copy and paste its URL into a TeleRead blog post without much extra effort. Of course, now I can just right-click on the icon for viewing the original article at left and copy it from there, but it’s an extra step.

And the old Readability worked just fine with Internet Explorer 7, which is all I have access to at work. The new one complains it’s not compatible.

It’s really nice that Readability is moving toward providing a replacement revenue source for banner ads, but I really wish it didn’t come at the expense of a number of the features that made the old version most useful to me. One of the most useful tools on the web just became considerably less useful; I wish there was some way to use the old bookmarklet still.