Introducing the Substack app
What you read matters
Today, we’re launching an iOS app for reading. It’s like your email inbox, but better.
For readers, the app brings all your Substack subscriptions together in one venue, giving you a beautiful, focused place to read your favorite writers. Discovery features make it easier to find and fall in love with new writers, and the app brings text, audio, video, and community seamlessly together for the best reading experience on the internet.
For writers, your connection to your readers gets upgraded when they choose to install the app. As ever, you retain total ownership of your content and mailing list, but now you also get instant, reliable delivery (no more Promotions folder!), multiple media formats in a single package, and another way for readers to connect with you and your work.
Download the app for iPhone and iPad here.
For Android users, sign up for the waiting list here.
As in everything we do at Substack, we see our work on this app as being in service of writers. This is just the first version, but it already incorporates a bunch of early feedback from newsletter authors. We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below, or via firstname.lastname@example.org.
How the app fits into the big picture
We started Substack because we believe that what you read matters, and that great writing is valuable. Great writing influences how you think and shapes how you see the world. It can change a policy, save lives, and start a movement. The cultural value of writing has always been clear, but in recent years writers have been given the impression that their work has little economic value.
The last couple of decades of the internet have eroded the media business and stripped writers – and other culture makers – of their financial dignity. Craigslist delivered the first blow, depriving the press of revenue from classifieds, and then Google and Facebook came along and sucked up the vast majority of online ad spend. As media businesses became more and more anemic, writers were relegated to content-production roles and playing attention games on social media, where “engagement” is prized above all else, including quality and truth.
It is clear to us that these problems can’t be solved with a tweak to an algorithm or a just-so regulation. Instead, the entire system needs to change. With Substack, we have set out to build an alternative media ecosystem based on different laws of physics, where writers are rewarded with direct payments from readers, and where readers have total control over what they read. In this world, writers are rewarded for serving readers well, and Substack gets rewarded for serving writers well. The power is tipped in favor of the people, not the platform.
The Substack app represents an important piece of this puzzle. The Substack framework has been flourishing based on email and the web, but now new things are possible.
The app helps bring together Substack as an ecosystem, giving you an icon to tap on your home screen that opens up a treasury of quality work by the writers you most trust. It is an app for deep relationships, an alternative to the mindless scrolling and cheap dopamine hits that lie behind other home screen icons. It offers a quiet space to read, where the work itself is given the spotlight and you’re not pulled into status games or trivial diversions. And it amplifies the network effects that already exist on Substack (did you know that if a reader is already a paid subscriber to a Substack, they’re 2.5x more likely to pay for yours?), making it easier for writers to get new subscribers, and for readers to explore and sample Substacks they might otherwise not have found.
You can expect new features and functions to become available as we continue to develop the app and improve the experience for readers, writers, podcasters, videomakers, community leaders, and more.
If you’re having trouble with the app, our support team can help. Head to the support center.
If you have questions about how the app works, you can ask those in the comment section of this post and we’ll do our best to answer.