I, too, love the minimalist functional layout, and the fact that it works on Firefox no matter how many noscript-style plugins I throw at it. (And it looks good in lynx, too!)
One idea to get new readers might be to accept Bitcoin. Bitcoin users are always looking for some way to spend their coins, and many of them are sitting on large piles of them, since they were involved with the system before it had any actual value. The BTC world is a small community, but they tend to be pretty technologically savvy and I suspect there could be a large overlap between them and LWN.net readers.