Substack’s publication app: One step nearer to turning into a publishing platform? | What’s New in Publishing


For some, it’s a handy solution to organise and uncover publication content material, for others, it turns Substack into simply one other walled backyard.

E-newsletter firm Substack has launched a publication app on iOS that lets readers view all of their Substack subscriptions in a single place.

The app gathers customers’ newsletters right into a devoted inbox, alongside a discovery tab that can assist readers discover new publications.

For some, it’s a handy solution to organise and uncover publication content material, for others, it turns Substack into simply one other walled backyard.

The Substack app

  • Substack introduced its new iOS app earlier this month, describing it as ‘like your electronic mail inbox, however higher’. Fairly than touchdown in a consumer’s common electronic mail inbox, the app brings all Substack subscriptions into one place, delivering a ‘targeted place to learn’.
  • The app is primarily geared towards the wants of readers. Discovery options make it simpler to seek out new writers on the Substack platform. And, in addition to textual content, the Substack app additionally helps background podcast listening; video embeds; and remark threads up to date in actual time.
  • In its launch assertion Substack mentioned that writers will nonetheless retain possession of their content material and mailing lists, however that the publication app will present a extra dependable supply mechanism, avoiding spam or promotions folders. It additionally provides writers entry to a number of media codecs.

Intentional studying

  • Because it launched, Substack has at all times positioned itself as an antidote to the eye economic system that rewards content material creators for attracting eyeballs not delivering worth. Its free platform enabled writers to be rewarded with direct funds from readers, and for readers to have the ability to management what they learn.
  • Launching the app, Substack’s founders described it as being like Google Reader, an RSS aggregator that permit customers curate their very own content material feed till Google mothballed it in 2013. Co-founder Hamish McKenzie took to Twitter to advertise the brand new app as a solution to return to that form of intentional studying.

Utilizing it makes me really feel like a reader once more. It’s the place I learn my favourite writers at their finest.

Platform ambitions

The looks and performance of the Substack app have attracted little or no remark, however that doesn’t imply the launch didn’t elicit robust opinions. A number of commentators have written at size about how the app has revealed Substack’s ambitions to grow to be a publishing platform.

Adam Tinworth highlighted the distinction between the brand new iOS app and Google Reader; somewhat than being a reader for any web site or weblog, this app is designed for Substack newsletters. It’s potential so as to add third-party RSS feeds to your Substack reader, however it’s not a very user-friendly course of.

The app set up initially defaulted to turning electronic mail receipt off, cease customers receiving Substack by electronic mail. Tinworth says:

Abruptly, as a substitute of being an electronic mail service, Substack turns into a content material app in your telephone or iPad.

Substack modified the default setting, letting customers set electronic mail notifications later. However the cost of abandoning its friction-free roots in electronic mail and switching to a platform play has made some commentators uncomfortable. Ernie Smith of the Mid Vary publication wrote ‘it places up a recent barricade to the openness of the open web.’ He mentioned:

The issue right here is that Substack is lastly beginning to put up gates on the walled backyard it created across the open platform.

Writing on his personal Substack publication, Platformer, Casey Newton mentioned that if the Substack app solely sees mediocre success it gained’t change a lot for readers and writers. However he worries that if the app is a success it might shift energy away from readers and writers to the platform. And he says:

The final time that occurred, we acquired Fb and Twitter, the place it was kind of unimaginable for writers to make a dwelling.

Newsletter app

This piece was initially revealed in Spiny Developments and is re-published with permission. Spiny Developments delivers updates and evaluation on the trade information you have to keep on prime of for those who’re operating a media and publishing enterprise. Subscribe to a weekly electronic mail roundup right here.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here