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The US writer, Chuck Palahniuk, author of Fight Club, has joined Salman Rushdie in choosing the online platform Substack to serialise his latest novel.
The platform enables readers to subscribe to writers and receive their posts “newsletter style” via email. Although very modern, in fact, it harks back to the time of Dickens whose own work was serialised.
Palahniuk’s new novel Green Pastures will be published in regular instalments from 27 September at a subscription price of $6 a month or $40 a year. He told the Guardian that the initial approach came from the San Francisco-based platform and that part of the appeal was the editorial independence offered. He said: “That’s really attractive, the idea that you don’t have somebody editing the content of your work.”
However, it remains unclear how Substack would react to content that was blasphemous or encouraged law-breaking, or favoured political extremism or criticized the platform itself or was deemed anti-Semitic or racist.
Palahniuk’s move follows that of Salman Rushdie who announced earlier this month that his new novella, The Seventh Wave, will be serialised in weekly instalments over the course of a year, with paying subscribers also able to view short stories along with his writing about films and books. Rushdie said: “The point of doing this is to have a closer relationship with readers, to speak freely, without any intermediaries or gatekeepers,” the author wrote on his page. “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.”
Substack was founded in 2017 by tech entrepreneur Andreessen Horowitz, Y Combinator, Fifty Years, “and other great investors”, according to their website.
It seems that the site may initially offer contributors no interference, but it remains unclear what the legal position would be regarding material that a party or parties deem defamatory. It may find itself liable in such circumstances.