Substack is a platform to facilitate subscription-based newsletters and is becoming a growing cause of worry for the publishing industry. Recently, veteran writer Salman Rushdie, made himself comfortable on the platform.
“The point of doing this is to have a closer relationship with readers, to speak freely, without any intermediaries or gatekeepers. There’s just us here, just you and me, and we can take this wherever it goes. I hope you’ll enjoy the ride. I’ll try to make it fun,” writes the Booker Prize-winning author in the intro to his Substack, Salman’s Sea of Stories.
Not only that, Rushdie has published his first post, titled Thank God, I’m an Atheist: Notes on Luis Bunuel (and Jeanne Moreau and Charlie Chaplin).
He has promised lots of free content but “some of it won’t be [free], including a new, unpublished, full-length fiction I’ll be putting up in installments every week”. The author has also promised that he will ask “questions” so that “we can have a conversation about it all”.
Substack is only one of many, the more popular of the platforms for newsletters. Others include Tinyletter and Ghost. Facebook, too, has a newsletter service called Bulletin, limited only to a few markets at the moment.
An author of the stratum that Rushdie is at with his craft promising to publish and entire body of work may be a worrisome start for the practise of publishing.
And yet, all coins have two sides and this one seems to contribute to the art of storytelling, the author is allowed to stay true to their narrative, without having to make alterations so they could be paid.
“People have been talking about the death of the novel, almost since the birth of the novel … but the actual, old-fashioned thing, the hardcopy book, is incredibly, mutinously alive. And here I am having another go, I guess, at killing it,” Rushdie told The Guardian.
Books and literature have never gelled well. Hard-core enthusiasts of the discipline can always be found looking down at any work that is on a screen. What would make this time any different?
Salman Rushdie seems to understand that, too, “I think that new technology always makes possible new art forms, and I think literature has not found its new form in this digital age … Whatever the new thing is that’s going to arise out of this new world, I don’t think we’ve seen it yet.”
In his first post, he lets the world knows that in his home because of the pandemic he has had “a sort of private film festival” for himself, “re-watching the classic movies that made me fall in love with the cinema long ago, and watching some of the new stuff that has taken over the movies these days — so, everything from The Leopard and Pather Panchali to Avengers: Endgame and Black Widow.”