Substack cometh, and lo it is good. (Pricing)

Up with Substack! Down with Substack!

The Substack has been up for a week, and it’s been fun so far. Lots of people have ideas about what to do, and how to do, “paid newsletters.” I’ve gotten some feedback on Twitter and elsewhere. I may change it up, or not.

Tanner Greer has a post up on his weblog, Why I am Bearish on Substack. He makes some good points. But to be frank, his weblog and Kevin Drum are almost the only “bloggers” I read who aren’t on Substack. The old ecosystem is dead. But clearly, this can’t scale…I’m not going to pay $200 a month for Substacks (well, perhaps…).

Suggestions and comments are welcome. Right now it’s a mix of free and paid stuff, and that’s my current plan.

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7 thoughts on “Up with Substack! Down with Substack!

  1. FWIW the easiest way for me to learn is usually an interview with the author/writer whether it’s written or recorded. Comes across so much clearer than having to sift through a 750 page book so I think you’re on the right track.

  2. You could feasibly get a couple of Substack authors to bundle together but, after reading Tanner Greer’s post, he’s correct that this would essentially be a magazine, which is precisely the format that is failing right now. And in the current internet environment, bringing authors together would inevitably result in the calls for people to disassociate from them over something controversial one of their fellow magazine writers wrote, no matter how small. The kind of phenomenon which killed the traditional liberal magazines with diverse viewpoints like The Atlantic, and has led to Vox (not traditionally liberal, but not totally woke) imploding. So the silo problem isn’t solved.

  3. I would like to subscribe to substack for genetics and science related stuff only. Currently you are covering varying large topics which don’t interest me.

  4. Some form of subscription bundling is inevitable in the future of Substack.

    Greer makes fun of this as re-inventing the magazine… but why is that a bad thing? It’s re-inventing the magazine without money (inherently) being wasted on advertising, graphic design, administration, a central editorial team, maintaining an independent website, etc. etc. Once the form matures, some of those roles may return, but the fundamental advantages will remain: Lower overhead, and greater editorial freedom. If you build a following with a SubMagazine and they pull a Greenwald on you, you can just divorce your Substack and either run independently, or find a more like-minded SubMagazine.

    There’s also the potential for a build-your-own magazine format (pay $X a month, get access to X # of participating writers), which would bias the format less towards ideological echo chambers. Not as open as blogs, but the best we can hope for in the present degraded age.

  5. For a long time, auto makers made “station wagons”, basically sedans with a squared off back, so you had twice the space of a trunk and it was connected to the cabin.

    But then SUVs came along, mounted on a truck chassis and offering even more space. Station wagons disappeared.

    But SUVs were bigger than many people wanted and some people preferred the handling of a car, so we now have “cross-over vehicles”, which are basically sedans with a squared off back, so you have twice the space of a trunk and it is connected to the cabin.

    Online magazines are mainly dead, but maybe there is a space for the magazine equivalent of a cross-over.

  6. Substack seems to have few advantages and at the end of the day you are “sharecropping” as you don’t control your own content.

    Don’t do it

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