Stephen King’s No Joy In E-Book Land
Posted on May 21, 2013
As I’m gearing up to self-publish with both e-book and paperback options, the news breaks today that Stephen King has made the decision to not provide an e-book option for his upcoming book Joyland. In today’s digital age where authors like Neil Gaiman are pushing for change in order to keep up rather than to go extinct, it’s either a bold move or a big financial mistake.
The decision to not include an e-book at all for Joyland makes readers have to purchase the physical book, which is King’s ultimate motive. In a move that shows support for brick-and-mortar stores, the book is available for pre-order as a paperback on Amazon, but a reader can purchase a limited hardback edition through Titan Books. So that may change things slightly as he is not treating the release in the traditional way. Now he’s making the hardback a limited commodity and not making readers wait for a paperback release, both smart decisions if he’s going to challenge the digital publishing world.
King’s physical-book-only choice supports the side of traditional publishing that other authors like James Patterson bemoan. In Patterson’s Future of Books ad, he made several claims that subversively takes shots at Amazon and other self-publishing platforms.
Bookstores like Barnes & Noble are taking huge financial hits and not being able to compete. Independent bookstores live with the threat of closing because of the rise of e-books. So maybe bookstores need an author to stand up for them as their physical-book-wielding hero?
Only the release itself will show whether or not a book release model like King’s will show success or failure. I will speculate that perhaps he will treat the e-book for Joyland much like paperback releases were treated, so that it will be available at a later date making those who are hungry to read the book purchase the physical book first. But King risks a larger release day by blocking a digital release of the book.
It should be noted that King isn’t necessarily following this physical-book-only model for all of his books. According to the LA Times article, the prequel to The Shining titled Doctor Sleep may have an e-book attached to it since an excerpt of the prequel will be included in a new e-book version of The Shining. But as one of the first major authors to take this Don-Quixote step against digital publishing, a lot of people in the industry will be watching what happens. Hopefully, it won’t be the readers who lose out in the whole campaign.
The constant changing landscape of publishing, both traditional and self, has become its own soap opera. Authors are taking a stand on either side of the demarcation line. Even an author like Gaiman who calls for change and supports what e-readers and e-books can provide for readers still doesn’t offer a solution. His suggestion that the way authors get their money may be in trying different things including “[a] world in which buying a physical book automatically gives you e-books and audiobooks.” King is definitely trying something different.
I support bookstores, and would be very sad if they all went away. At the same time, I would rather carry King’s large tomes like Under The Dome in my Kindle rather than as the hardback. King is addressing the larger problem of what to do with books, but it’s too soon to determine whether or not he’s right or will be successful.
As an indie author, I wish I could support independent bookstores by self-publishing through them or promoting readers to purchase through them, but that’s not really an option as of right now. It would be better if Amazon’s self-publishing model was supported by industry professionals rather than strictly business employees who see the books independently published as only a product rather than the special pieces they are. It would be great if popular authors like King wouldn’t stand against the book format that represents so many indie authors. I will keep chanting my question until someone finds a way to bridge over line drawn in the sand – can’t we all just get along?
It’s not that surprising a move for King, because as a traditionally published author, he gets better royalties from print books than eBooks; most contracts take a heavy percentage off of eBooks. So it’s in their interest to promote print.
I buy almost nothing but digital books now, because they’re so much more convenient, so I guess I won’t be buying that one. I *will* be buying Under the Dome for my Kindle, however. So I guess he’ll just see if other readers are like me.
It’s true that King is one of those who does benefit from the physical book purchase. But for a popular author like him, I would think that the digital book would start being more important for new books. I won’t purchase Joyland as a physical book, but that could be because he’s not one of my radar authors. If Neil Gaiman chose to do this – that may be totally different. Thanks for stopping by!
Hi … I just wanted to point out that ebook and print tend to level out in the end. I have four book contracts with two different publishers. Industry standard is 10% on hard copies and 25% on ebooks (one of my publishers does 50% on ebooks).
These percentages are on net receipts not cover price. In the end, my hard copy goes for roughly $11 and my ebooks sell for $2,99. I’m making about $.77 on print and approximately $1.04 on ebooks.
I don’t think his rationale is about the money in the long run. I’d say its about the publishing landscape and since he’s going to sell massive numbers of books regardless of what he does, he has the luxury of making that choice unlike mid-list authors such as myself.
Sorry .. typo .. $2.99
Proof you’re a writer! You fixed your typo! 🙂
Thanks! Now if only WP would allow us to edit our comments!
E.S. – Thank you for sharing your experience as an author and the financial breakdown. Congratulations on your books and success.
Interesting read… I can’t blame him but at the same time as an aspiring author in a world of competition, closed doors and ladders missing the essential rungs to succeed for a lot of us I can also see the value of ebooks… That and I’ve also gotten addicted to the format for the price… On a megar wage one can only afford so much and when books are 1/3 of the print price sometimes it’s the only way I can spread the love!!! at least he’s an established author who can pull this off- there’s a lot of people who would fall though if this was their only option I’m today’s day and age, and unfortunately, that’s what will continue to drive this upward trend 😦 believe me- I love nothing more than the smell of a new book and when I finally break into the big world I’ll be replacing all my ebooks with hard copies… It just may be a dying wish though.
I think about the issue of print books, bookstores, and indie authors all the time (as I’m about to do this myself). I, too, love my hard copies, but these days I only buy the ones I want to collect. What I want to know is how much money might King lose by not offering an e-book? And you’re right – the indie author would disappear if King’s approach became the only approach. That’s why I interpret the choice as him taking sides in the publishing wars. But I’m also with you – I can’t wait to see my own work as a physical copy!
We need to save the tangible book, the book whose pages we can turn, whose corners we can fold.
I’m in agreement that there shouldn’t be an end to the physical book. I’ve got lots of them on my shelves, but the shelf space is saved for my beloveds now. Allowing for a digital copy lets some readers, like myself, purchase a book that they’d rather keep in digital form. I am in know way wanting bookstores to go away nor hardbacks or paperbacks. But I’m surprised that King would choose to not take advantage of readers (like me) who would prefer to purchase his book for my e-reader rather than my bookshelf.
I could never find myself buying a book online, until a lot of books I wanted to buy were unavailable in my country or in papper form and it is in these cases only that I will do so. I find nothing nicer then sitting,opening a book,reading it and getting immersed, contrary to reading it from a screen to which I allready stare way too much. I think papper books are an art and a gem of culture that everyone should fight to keep for as long as we can and I do like the news your post presented me, tho I am aware that for self-publishing authors it makes things a lot harder, so I do hope some bridge in between will be build so we can all carelesly do what we like – read and write.
Oh, I love my hardbacks and paperbacks too. But once I bought my e-reader, I could purchase even more books that my house couldn’t hold from authors who I might not purchase from because I have limited shelf space. And I love being able to carry around digital copies on one platform. So I’m not anti-physical books. I’m just surprised that King would choose not to offer an e-book at all. With all the kerfuffle about digital books being the enemy of bookstores (and in a way, they are hurting them), it’s a truly strong move. And like you said, I would like to see a bridge so that self-published authors aren’t hurting bookstores as I know, they’d rather see themselves in them!
I’ve been sad to see so many book stores closing, but I also enjoy ebooks. I did not start reading ebooks until after my daughter was born, then it just became so much easier to read with, and I’d rather read on an ereader than not at all. I don’t have a strong opinion on this topic, but feel that reading is great regardless of what avenue a person chooses to use to engage the written word.
Blessings and congrats on being Freshly Pressed.
Thank you so much! Yes, it’s a hard to know that buying an e-book may not be helping my local bookstore. And I love my physical books, but now only purchase them for the authors I love and want to collect in hard form. For me, King is one of the writers that I’d rather purchase in digital form and read. Thanks for stopping by!
Interesting read. I fully agree with banphrionsa’s comments. For an aspiring author, ebooks do offer a cheaper alternative and also, open the doors for those rejected by the traditional publishers. At the same time like a lot of other people, I do love an actual book and so I don’t think traditional publishers will disappear (the successful ones will find a way to adapt and strike a balance between these two mediums)! Congrats on being FP! 🙂
King is a writer I follow (have followed, and will continue to follow until he ceases to write), and though his stance on physical / digital is varied, I support the move. I’m old enough (but not that old!) to appreciate and favor both sides of the argument, though I’m still a sucker for books on actual paper. Digital gives you the convenience, but not the feeling. That said, you can’t stop progress. 🙂 Oh, and I do own the digital version of Under the Dome; no way was I going to lug around that monster.
Tim – thanks for stopping by. I bought Under the Dome to read in physical book. That sucker was hard to find a good position in which to read! And it made my hands tired holding it! You’re right – he doesn’t make the same decision for all his books, so in a way he’s not truly taking sides. It’s just coming so soon after Patterson’s ad. And I’m all for supporting bookstores. I’ll spend extra money if authors have new releases from my favorite authors (so far waiting for Neil Gaiman’s newest book to be mailed to me from his preferred bookstore in Boston *signed!). 🙂
I think the notion of using paper books instead of eBooks so one won’t put the bookstores out of business is akin to using a typewriter instead of a computer so as not to put the typewriter manufacturers out of business. Progress will reduce business to some, but create new business for others. Bookstores need to get on board with innovation to stay open. And some books are always better on paper – photo books, some cookbooks, etc. But who wants to carry a heavy novel around on a trip, when I can carry hundreds of them on my e reader in my purse! Insightful comments on a pertinent topic. congratulations on being freshly pressed.
Thank you. And you bring up the point that I truly believe in. You can’t stop progress. And I in no way want to close bookstores. But no one is making any moves to get them the lucrative digital business that Amazon has right now. I have ideas, but it would require money that they probably don’t have to give. I would self-publish through indie bookstores if they had a platform that made it user-friendly and had a way to put the books physically on their shelves as well. But that requires vetting, and that seems to be a very big sticking point. Thanks for stopping by!
IMO, King is doing the right thing. You mention towards the end of your post that you don’t want the readers to suffer. Well, we need a healthy industry not only in that we have lots of readers, but also because we produce quality products. To do so, we need to experiment with the available formats, backstep, sidestep, and look long and hard at what we’re doing in order to ensure that we have authors that are able to make a living by producing a quality product for a large readership.
I think experiments like King is doing let us look at issues like quality control. Because a big name author is releasing in print through a traditional publisher, he will have quality control from the get-go. He’ll see the impact in his sales of hardcovers and paperbacks, and when the book is eventually released, he’ll see how well his books sell with that built in quality that the prior processes instilled in his work. The biggest problem I see with our industry right now is that indie authors often have NO copy editing in their books, or the copy editing is so poor that it ends up seeming as though there was no copy editing. We need to address this by having as many cross comparisons of the e-publishing process and the traditional process as possible, and maybe this will allow us to see where we can best implement a copy editing step into our work.
I’ve downloaded several books by relatively unknown authors for a few dollars here or there. The vast majority of them are filled with horrible typos, grammatical atrocities, and storyline errors (e.g., a boy is 14 in 1996 and is 17 in 1997). We owe our readers better, and it’s big name authors like King that can help us figure out how to do that and still make a living. I agree with your sentiment that the new indie author needs the support of the big guys, but right now the indie writing community, in general – not your work specifically – is much too lackadaisical when it comes to giving our deserving readers good quality.
Thanks for stopping by! You’re right, the vetting process is a big issue that exists, and it’s one that indie authors need to be aware of and hire professionals accordingly to help. That’s one thing that authors like King have, which is a very professional team behind him. The reasons you mention about the authors you took a chance on are exactly why I did start an editing business (although I’ve moved to working on my writing rather than editing others’).
But I still question King not offering an e-book at all for that one book. He’s still not totally taking Amazon out of the equation, and Amazon or any other online ordering service also make bookstores take a hit. It’s not just e-books.
And I thank you for your confidence in my upcoming work! 🙂 Beyond my own skills, I’ve got a pretty amazing team set up. My vow is not to self-publish anything until it’s ready. So in a way, I have my own team of professionals ready to vet. It’s expensive, but it’s the right way to treat my own writing professionally. Thank you for reminding me that this is the right decision with any of my work I put out myself.
And if King creates huge books like Under The Dome, he really does need to make it digitally available if not just for the ease of reading it!
I really doubt that it will never get published digitally. He’s just trying to get that initial influx of cash from the traditional print. Give it a bit of time, and I’m sure it’ll get e-published.
I agree. And if this does well for King, that could become the new model for established authors – to release the e-book at a later date.
A very interesting read. It is ideal to ride the wave of progress and King’s decision is a very bold move that can probably pave the way for other authors to consider doing the same. I am not against eBooks but i do wonder what the future of books will be.
I don’t think that the choice he is making about not publishing his new book in ebook format will hurt him much financially…I have my own Kobo (the only thing I use for reading right now), but I’m still going to go out and buy Joyland…I mean, it’s Stephen KING of all people (one of my favourite authors). I think more of his loyal readers will still go out and get it, even if they do have an ereader.
That’s awesome that you’re going to get one of your favorite authors’ books for your bookshelf! I feel that way about Neil Gaiman. For me, King would be someone I purchase strictly for my e-reader, so that’s money he’ll “miss”. But you’re right – it’s not going to break him. I’m interested to see if other authors like him will make the same move. Then it will start making a difference.
Kudos to you! I hope you love the book!
As a self-published author myself, I do ebooks only because they’re affordable and cheap to produce. As for King though, I’m sure he’ll be fine. He’s the King of modern horror, he makes a figurative killing when he shows up at a book signing. I’m sure he’ll make a lot of money even without an ebook.
You’re probably right. It won’t break him not to sell e-books. But I’m curious to know how much money he’ll miss out on. I also would like to know if it really does push readers to buy his book in bookstores in comparison to how many will still use Amazon to purchase it.
The die-hard fans will definitely flock to buy the books whether or not they’re ebooks. And I wouldn’t worry about him missing out on money. After all, he’s a millionaire advocating for other millionaires to pay more in taxes! He’s got money to spare.
hahaha! You’re right about that. No e-book for this one particular book won’t break him. And as I mentioned, he’s still got lots of his books in digital form. So for Mr. King, he’ll still stay on top.
Unless I knock him off!
We can only hope, although I’m hoping you mean off the bestseller’s list and not knocking him off in life! How very Stephen King of you to say!
I’d prefer the bestseller list. I’d rather not get a murder charge. I don’t look good in orange or grey jumpsuits.
I love Stephen King. Good to see him in ebooks! Bravo!
Thank you! He’s one of the authors I prefer to purchase for my e-reader. But I know lots of people who like to get his physical books, too!
I like the ebooks as I can listen to them everywhere. Thanks for sharing. http://www.segmation.wordpress.com
I like having a hard copy myself, however some books really are better in digital format. Like you mentioned, enormous ones can simply be cumbersome and you want to be able to take it and read it no matter where you go, but if a hard copy is too big, it will just stay at home. Additionally, it’s cheaper so ALL textbooks should be made available as e-books in my opinion (plus they’re easier to search when you have an open book test). I also think going digital allows more people access to more books, and that’s a big deal, and a really good thing. But we still should all get along.
Interesting post.I didn’t know SK was up to this.
My thoughts about this are mainly:
1. Stephen King can afford to take a stand like this not only financially, but also as a well-known writer who has already ensured his status as a best-selling author and the king of his genre, whichever way his decision goes will not really affect him or anything he’s accomplished so far.
2. J.K.Rowling, for instance, allowed her HP books to become e-books only recently, but it was under her own terms. Her books were sold in paperback millions of times over and in every language possible, and it was not until she had reaped all she could from them that the e-books became available. If you ask me, that was a very smart move on her part and probably this is what King wants to do as well. It’s not just about the money, but mostly, I think, about keeping the printed books and therefore bookstores, alive.
As a book worm, nothing makes me happier than to step into a bookstore and stay there for hours browsing everything and taking in the smell of freshly printed pages. Having to take long trips across town in order to visit the one remaining store left has sucked the fun out of it. I agree with you, something has to be done so bookstores don’t die altogether and I truly hope SK’s initiative goes well.
How to do this, as you stated, remains to be answered.
That’s the thing about King’s choice – I question if it will “save” bookstores. You mentioned the experience of being in one that’s highly important. I guess it could get more foot traffic in bookstores, but since that’s a harder thing to do with less bookstores, I wonder how many people will still order from Amazon. I’m sad that even going and staying in a B&N store these days isn’t as much fun.
I think Rowling made a huge move with the way she handles not only her e-books but also Pottermore as well. She’s on a completely different plane in terms handling her own books. She was one of the reasons B&N and Borders did so well for a while. But I think she’s protecting her own interests rather than making a move like King that supports others.
I’ve got ideas as to how bookstores could take advantage of the new digital age, but it takes money and someone to take a chance. That’s hard to do when bookstores are trying to just hang in there!
I say bravo to King. The world of traditional publishing needs a champion, and it’s good to see someone who has the resources take a stand. I daresay King hasn’t “needed” a big first-day-of-sale opening for decades, so he can afford to live on physical book sales without bemoaning the loss of some e-books.
There are tons and tons of e-books from authors of all different levels of popularity, so King “experimenting” with paper is not going to shut down the e-book market for indie authors who want to self-publish.
Of course I am biased: I love holding a real book in my hand and looking at my bookshelves full of volumes in many sizes and colors. I’ve yet to see an autographed e-book. I don’t even own a Kindle or any kind of e-reader at all. I’m certain physical books will never, ever completely disappear, but it’s nice to see a major author who wants real books to remain more than just a curiosity in tiny antique shops.
It’s a nice idea but if King really wanted people to go to bookshops and buy Joyland then he shouldn’t allow Amazon to sell the physical copy either! http://www.amazon.co.uk/Joyland-Hard-Case-Crime-Stephen/dp/1781162646/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1369417553&sr=1-1&keywords=stephen+king
Yes, I’ve been saying that in my comments. It feels a little dubious that he has this crusade but is still using the larger corporation that does more damage to bookstore sales.
I am a huge fan of Stephen King and have read his books for 30+ years so I will be purchasing this book in whatever form he wants me to. But the majority of my books are ebooks and that is mainly for the portability of them. I like having the book I am reading available on my Kindle, phone, and computer. But I also like having a paperback stashed in my car for those just in case moments! Joyland will have to be my just in case book!
I think King will do fine. I’m glad he has readers like you that want to have the paperback. But if he publishes the big tomes like Dome, then he has to offer an e-book option!
Oh for sure! A few years ago I donated all my book because I was tired of packing up and moving so many boxes every time I moved, which is a lot! The Stand is a heavy ass book for sure!
I don’t know if I’m excited or just interested in the new tv show Under the Dome. I don’t think I ever finished that heavy book! Now I might find out what happened? 🙂
I am totally excited for it. I have actually been pleased in most of the film/TV versions of his books. I could only be more excited if there were zombies.
Oh…zombies make everything better!
Interesting article, and I suppose this is the opposite end of the spectrum for the book world, as opposed to the music world. Nine Inch Nails, Radiohead, and a few other mainstream artists have released their albums digitally with the option to “donate whatever you like.” It’s interesting because you obviously can’t only release a “hard copy” in the music industry, but this option works in the realm of literature. I can see why this would work for big-time writers like King, but at the same time, don’t bash the self-publishing world. My book, any many writings of others, could not have any platform without this new outlet.
Great blog, by the way!
Thank you! I was thinking about the “pay what you like” model as well as crowdfunding through Kickstarter, especially after watching Amanda Palmer’s TED talk. I wonder if it could work for a beginning writer at all. I guess if a writer wasn’t concerned about making money and just sharing, it might work. However, I’m not sure how that writer could get traction to gain readers.
The publishing world, even with its stubborn flag bearers, is constantly changing. I want to be on the forefront of change, yet I also would like to take advantage of what works. Ahhh the conundrums.
Thanks for stopping by!
Thinking about this a bit further, I had a professor who once said during class, “On a moment of inspiration, it occured to me that the Kindle is just a new-age word for the burning of books.” Lots of satire in this statement, but the death of the tangible book altogether would be a huge downfall for civilization.
I’m in agreement. I don’t want the book to disappear. But perhaps it becomes a more collectible commodity. Neil Gaiman mentioned in his Book Fair speech that perhaps if people bought a hardcover book that they also get the audiobook and e-book with the price. You know, I would totally do that if I could have all of them at a reasonable price.
My bookshelves would be sad if physical books went away.
I think both mediums can co-exist. I agree. I personally do not like the experience of a digital book as much as a tangible one. It can freeze, malfunction if it gets wet traveling, needs to be charged, etc, etc…. but it has its pluses (less weight for college text books, in example). My concern is that the electronic Kindles and the like will lead to a distracted reading experience (linked to phones, FB, crap like that) and reading will not be the same focused experience and people will gradually, over a long period of time, turn away from it… like a lobster at slow boil.
There’s an even bigger issue in my opinion with digital books – who owns them in the long run? My books are mine forever. But Amazon could take my books away anytime they wanted if the digital rights changed. They may be easy to carry right now, but what happens to the files if technology changes – and technology always changes!
Very true! Technology is ahead of society in almost all aspects- we didn’t even figure out to function consistently after or during the industrial revolution, and the technological/ informational one is going a lot faster… I try to be optimistic, but it’s chaotic at best! The issues of rights is highly complicated in the Internet world, and lawyers like to pretend they understand, or maybe they do, until tomorrow comes and the game has changed. Nobody can keep up. So it makes me wonder, how over time, this will affect our outlook? Is everyone a contributor and there are no Kings or Hemingways, but just massive amounts of writers/artists on smaller scales?
The convenience of self-publishing on the internet has definitely led to a watering down of good literature out there. The sad style editing, sloppy plot developments, and just plain lack of talent has not been a barrier for Amazon, who’s only requirement for anyone to call themselves a writer is to pay Amazon. Kind of reminds me of those drawing tests on the back of comic books–draw Timmy the Turtle, send it in with your $40, and we’ll print your name out on a certificate. Presto! You’re an artist.
Another fine example is television and cable. We started out with half a dozen channels and now we have thousands. Did it improve the overall quality of viewing? Not even close. We descended swiftly from classic serials into the smelly armpit of reality TV and game shows where people devour roadkill. How does this affect our standards of living, the aspirations of our children, and our opinion of our fellow man? The brain is a powerfully responsive machine; garbage in, garbage out.
Sure, sure, you can say, “Well, to each his own,” and “Variety is the spice of life,” but when you dream of coq a vin and all you can find is Lawry’s Seasoned Salt at the store, a deep level of disappointment sets in. You begin to wonder if anyone is really cooking anymore. Therefor, I implore all writers to really aspire to greatness. Not sales, not approval, but that inner fire of knowing that says, “This will become literature when I cannot edit this piece any further to any added benefit.” Shoot higher than a lowly click on Amazon.
I appreciate your point of view about quality in terms of publishing. It’s one that is shared by many. And there are many examples that do fit your sentiments.
However, there are lots of indie authors that do have high quality works that get their work directly to the readers through the click on Amazon or other self-publishing platforms. What’s happening is that readers are vetting the work themselves and spreading the word. And while finances should not be the end all goal of an artist, there are definitely financial gains to be had in self-publishing.
At the same time, considering I’m getting ready to do this myself and have researched both sides, it is important that an author considers points like yours when getting their work ready. My job is to get my writing in the best shape possible through my own editing and then through a professional team I will assemble. It’s expensive for me, but that’s part of my business. And I don’t click on anything until it’s ready. Also, like Gaiman says about dandelions, I think it’s good to diversify my business. That means I’ll be querying agents on other works as well.
I don’t think that self-published writing waters down literature if people don’t want to sample where that work is available. If people shop for books in places that limit indie offerings like bookstores, then the pool isn’t watered down – it’s just smaller.
I’m not sure that King is totally against those who offer e-books based on his history and his other works available. But I do think it may be his way of supporting those that think vetting the quality of books that make it into bookstores is important.
Thanks for your comment.
It’s wise for the aspiring artist to pick their venue with care. Olympic freestyle swimming hopefuls rarely practice in pools with turds floating in them.
You’re right to caution me about other authors and their works. You’ve got a point about visibility when the pool is large. But I also believe that there are good and bad books no matter how they’re published. Ultimately, it’s our responsibility as readers to filter for our own tastes.
There are plenty of bad self-published books out there. There are also plenty of good ones — books that would never see the light of day if traditional publishers had their way. As far as I’m concerned, self-publishing has significant expanded the variety and diversity of what’s out there to read. That’s a good thing.
I’m with you. I think that the opportunities that some self-published authors have been able to take help stir things up and keep things fresh. Now publishers have to pay attention to what’s going on and stay current – that’s never a bad thing for business.
Realistically it’s only people like Stephen King who can afford to push for hard copy publications. King’s fans will buy his books in whatever format it is provided. But he is fighting a losing battle because e-readers are convenient. Once you find you can carry a library in your handbag there’s no going back. Readers know it, publishers know it and writers know it. It’s called progress. The book is dead, long live the e-reader. You ask why we can’t just get along, but confess that that even you prefer to have Steven King’s weightier tomes on your e-reader. There’s no denying progress.
Oh, I won’t deny that I prefer his big tomes on my e-reader at all. And in fact, I buy most books for my e-reader so I can have them at all times. But I don’t want actual books to die. On the contrary, I wish that they would evolve as well. Perhaps the old model of releasing books needs to evolve to something like buying a hardback copy also gets you the e-book.
But it’s not e-books per se that are hurting bookstores. It’s the fact that Amazon can get you the book quickly and for not that much money. I will buy physical books through them more often than making the effort to go to a bookstore, sad to say.
I’m a fan of my e-reader. I’m just surprised that King would make such a stance when the last time he made a big announcement it was to espouse the greatness of e-books.
I’m stunned by the man’s hypocrisy, to be honest. I recently purchased A Face in the Crowd, a short story he wrote and sold for the Kindle for .99. I was thrilled to have a chance to read something he wrote for such a low price. Problem was, the story was ridiculously short and pretty much crap and half of the download constituted teasers for the books he has co-written with Peter Straub. He certainly seems willing to use downloads to his advantage when he wants. I’m pretty much done with the man. https://kingmidgetramblings.wordpress.com/2013/05/22/really-mr-king-please-stop/
I don’t mind if he tries different things to expand his business or rebrand, but he did help Amazon promote the Kindle 2 with digital-only story. So that doesn’t match. Also, as I’ve pointed out, he’s not going completely digital-free as he’s still using online warehouses to sell his books.
Reblogged this on KingMidget's Ramblings and commented:
I’m not the only one annoyed with Mr. King.
Im just trying to get people I know to actually pick up and read a book in any form. Too many TV couch potatoes in my family I guess. I personally read through atleast a couple books a week…always hardcopies, never Ebooks. This is ironic considering all four of my self published books are in ebook form. Im waiting for the day we can ingest books faster. I am curious for the future. What next? books inserted in our brains like computer chips?
I get the impression Stephen King is a very reluctant participant in the digital world. He doesn’t use Facebook or Twitter and I get the impression he has only gone into digital to promote his print books (and probably at the insistence of publisher). He is a rarity – not many authors have a prolific following and therefore the option to do whatever they like. Other than J.K. Rowling (as someone else mentioned).
I don’t think digital is the death of paper books. Everyone I know who loves to read and owns an e-reader, says it hasn’t replaced traditional books. The e-reader has meant they just buy more books. If authors are making money from print AND e-books, surely this is a win-win. The wide availability of e-books may even encourage non-regular readers to buy more.
Bookstores aren’t necessarily faltering because of the availability of e-books. Popular authors like Stephen King have paper books available everywhere – department stores, airports and online. Gone are the days where the only place to purchase a paperback is a bookstore. It is the same with many types of stores. People are going online to obtain more competitive prices and better availability. If you go into a bookshop and ask for a title, and they say they have to order it in – taking 2-3 weeks – why wouldn’t you just get online and order it yourself? This has happened to me many times. I prefer paper books, but the limited amount of space in a bookstore means that unless I want the most commercial of titles, I have to wait. Bookstores need to diversify their offerings if they want to stay alive. Many of the larger chains in Australia, have reducing amount of shopfronts and have shifted to an online presence. I think it is a shame because I love to browse in a bookstore as well – sadly, they are going the way of the video shop. Obsolete. It doesn’t mean people have stopped watching movies and it doesn’t mean people will stop reading/buying books.
Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed.
Thanks for stopping by! I agree that things are changing. And change hurts. That’s why we’re seeing moves like this, ads like Patterson’s, and the big publishing houses not giving an inch. There are things I don’t want to go away, like bookstores or physical books. But I do think things will change. At some point, we won’t be using e-readers.
I think there shouldn’t be a “them or us” attitude. And as someone echoed in here, chances are King hasn’t given up on the e-book. He’s just using this book to support bookstores.
I suppose it’kind of like releasing an album to the shops and not making it available to download – could be a mistake financially but I doubt he’s concerned about the money. Thumbs up for him.
Isn’t it funny that we can see it almost as a rebel move? Like he’s the rock star making this choice? Thanks for checking the post out!
I have a hard time just reading the blogs I like on here. Kudos to Stephen King for taking the stand against the death of small business. Each deserves their own, but it really is tragic to see cute coffee shops and used book stores going under all the time. Production does not equal quality.
I think there are ways for the cute coffee shops and bookstores to take advantage and partner with the digital change that is happening. But it costs money to do so, and so they need authors like King to support them. And I support them as well for those authors I have to have the physical book to read!
And while production does not equal quality all the time, I’ve read several indie authors whose works are equal to many of the books found in those bookstores. They’ve just found a different outlet.
Thanks for taking the time to read this blog post!
And I do see the need for the digital expenditure- especially in this time. People who would never have gotten noticed will be seen and reach people who would never pick up a book. I just pray that the idea of smelling the freshly tamped espresso brewing while fingering through a fresh new book never dies.
I agree. I’m lucky that we have a great, very strong local bookstore with its own little cafe. I know that makes me spoiled these days!
I love the intimacy of an actual book…texture, smell, turning the pages, and so on. And I love browsing book stores. No e-books, please.
You’re right. An actual book does feel intimate because it’s just the two of you. However, I do love my e-reader because I can carry hundreds of books with me anywhere. They both have their uses for me.
But I do like your point!
It must be awesome to have the ability to stand on your principals, come what may – I envy him that. Most of us would publish our books on rolls of toilet paper if we could get a sell! 🙂
You aren’t kidding! I thought about whether or not I would make a choice like King’s if I had a lucrative career. I’m not sure what choice I’d make. Food for thought!
Excellent, diplomatic article. I enjoyed reading it. I wrote something about this but yours is more eloquent. I read that King is doing this more or less as a gimmick. With a bigger publisher, he wouldn’t be able to pull this “hold the ebook rights” nonsense. I’m a big ebook reader and that is my preferred choice. If other writers I enjoyed did something similar I don’t think I would purchase the book in print to continue to read them. It would be tough but I wouldn’t follow or support their decision. I think the reader should have the choice of format. I agree with the last line in your article: can’t we all just get along? I am tired of the print vs. ebook debates and the whole “I miss the smell of real books” dialogue.
Thanks for the compliments. I am in no way wanting to get rid of physical books. I’m very proud of my extensive bookshelves, but these days I buy special editions or signed editions which make them even more special. But I like being able to have a book at my fingertips at all times. Change is necessary, but it would be great if it could come without all the angst.
Vinyl, cassettes, etc can all go extinct because you need clunky hardware to use them. Unless humans lose our eyeballs and hands, we’ll always have the hardware to use books around. They might decline dramatically in general use, but they won’t go entirely extinct. I think what could happen is that publishers will reverse the order of format publication. Traditionally books were published in the more expensive format (hardback) and if they were popular enough they would then be published in a less expensive form (paperback). Perhaps what will happen is that most books will be published in digital format first, then the ones that are hits (Harry Potter, Twilight…shudder, Ender’s Game, etc) will be published in physical form along with goodies for fans.
I think if it were that order with e-book first, there would be a bigger decline in physical books. I think Gaiman has a great point in his Book Fair speech that buying a hardback book should come with the e-book or audiobook. That would be a way for both sides to win.
If King really wanted to support bookstores, he would distribute collectible, signed copies to indie bookstores all over the world for people to go and purchase. And then he would go viral about that. This was just a big announcement and then the vague hope of people going to the store.
If not anything else, it gives me something to watch and observe… 🙂
Personally I think the important thing to cherish and nurture is fiction, not the package it comes in. Much as I love books, I love them for what they contain not what they are – so if ebooks are the future then that’s fine with me, so long as I can read the novels and stories I love, and other people can read mine!
The content really does make a difference. I’m all for a good story told by a good storyteller.
I see that Stephen King has more than four million likes on his Facebook Page (Is it his Facebook Page or is his fans that are running it?).
Even if only 10% of his fans bought a paperback copy, that equals more than 400,000 sales.
And you may buy e-books through independent bookstores. IndieBound has a program where the reader may select an independent bookstore and buy e-books that way. Then a portion of the profit goes to the brick and mortar indie bookstore.
Here’s a link to the list of independent bookstores participating in the KOBO e-reading program. All that’s needed is to get the word out to people that want to support the indies.
Kobo supports .epub and .pdf formats and Amazon Kindle also supports .pdf formats.
I wonder if someone that owns a Kindle can buy through an indie bookstore and read the book as a .pdf on an Amazon Kindle.
That’s the problem with the Kindle – it has a DRM, so you can’t read its files on other readers and they aren’t compatible with other files. I would love it if the indie bookstores were with more than just Kobo, but actually that was a good move on their part. The newest Kobo reader is pretty awesome looking.
What about Amazon’s free reading apps — would any of those work with the KOBO? There’s an app for the iPad and Android Tablets.
As of now, Amazon has made it hard for it to be used for anything beyond PDF’s and their files for just that reason. They’re smart business-wise. But the new Kobo that just came out may give the Kindle Fire a run for its money.
I have read that KOBO dominates the e-reader market in Japan and Australia, and I see from Wiki that Kobo has 46% of the market in Canada with Amazon Kindle holding only 24% in that market. And in France, Kobo has 50% of the market share.
Kobo could be the next “new” wave. They just need to update their self-publishing platform to truly compete with getting more indie author business.
I stand with the one who goes under the name Mr. King. There is nothing better than sitting on the couch with a novel.
I love sitting on the couch and reading! Both a book and an e-reader give me a lot of joy. But I do enjoy the actual page turn. That is one thing an e-reader can’t simulate all the way.
Congratulations on being FP’d.
You bring up an excellent point about lugging large books around. My wife has 2 artificial shoulders and knees due to the ravages of Arthritis. Her Kindle is her go-to choice for reading.
I understand the necessity of supporting our local booksellers, even B & N, but the digital tide is taking them out. I applaud Stephen King’s latest effort. It will be interesting to see how it pans out.
I agree, it will be interesting to watch. It’ll be even more interesting if other authors like him start doing the same thing. Then it will really be making a statement. But e-books aren’t going to disappear. They’re just too convenient.
Thanks for checking my post out!
Interesting read on a topic I have been following. One thing that you don’t mention here is that Joyland is being published by a branch of Titan (that they recently purchased) called Hard Case Crime. HCC is specifically geared towards bringing old pulp noir classics and new books in that genre into print, and always with a new painted cover in that style.
HCC had a “Book Club” for many years, sending a new book to subscribers each month, and (I believe) stayed out of the eBook game.
Joyland is King’s second book for HCC. His first, The Colorado Kid, was the title that led me to the imprint after running into it at an introductory price in a mainstream bookstore. I am certain I am far from the only one.
Titan has discontinued the Book Club and embraced eBooks. However, this appears to be HCC and King throwing their longer franchised fans a bone.
I’ll be picking up the paperback, despite the fact that almost all of my reading is done via eReader since 2010. (I do put my nook down for a couple of months each summer to put a dent in my dead tree collection).
Thanks for the post.
You bring up a really good point about what type of book/genre it is. A paperback or limited hardback really matches what’s been done before, so it may just be keeping things in line with the past PR. And really – a true work of pulp really has to be held in your hand with lots of pages to flip.
Good post! I don’t blame Stephen King for going the hardback/paperback route. I’m actually looking forward to reading Doctor Sleep when it comes out. I won’t buy it yet until I’ve read the library copy. It’s just cheaper that way for me right now.
I can’t afford an e-reader at this time, but with the way books are today I have no choice but to save up for one. As much as I love reading paperbacks I’m starting to notice the prices of them versus the e-reader price. Some paperback versions by my favorite writers go for around $15.95 while the eBook version is around 5 bucks or more. Or how eBook versions now get released first while the paperback version gets released months later. I have no choice but to catch up with the e-reader crowd.
Thanks! There’s still an issue with an established writer that has an e-book priced only a few dollars less than a hardback. That’s not good e-book pricing. But if the e-book is priced around $9.99, it’s a great alternative to a physical book. I imagine that he won’t do the same with Doctor Sleep. Someone in the comments here posted that Joyland fits with a pulp fiction book almost as a follow-up, so it lends itself to a print-only release. King is being smart about his business in diversifying what he does. Also, he picked up a lot of press with his no-e-book decision.
E- books are great and leaves me shelf space for books I really want to keep. I like the idea of going to a book store to purchase and being able to flip the pages. At the sametime don’t understand why King would not do an e-book he will sale just as many.
I’m grateful to someone else in the comments who brought up the point that Joyland is actually a follow-up to another pulp book, so it’s genre lends itself to a physical-book only release. That being said, I hope he does make an e-book available eventually.
I haven’t exactly been an ardent follower of the e-book/physical discourse, but to me it seems like online book stores (selling hardcopy) killed bricks and mortar, not e-books (though e-books did throw a few head kicks in).
If King is selling hardcopy only, won’t the majority of sales be over the internet anyway, rather than in bricks and mortar? (except for at the airport that is – the final bastion of real world book sales).
I guess my take on it is that bricks and mortar can’t survive in a competitive environment when there is cheaper option with far fewer overheads, regardless of how many big authors sell only hardcopies.
The only thing that will kill the physical book is our impatient need for the instantaneous satisfaction of our wants, right now, and the cost increase that will occur due to the loss of economies of scale caused by much lower levels of physical book production.
Or I could be completely wrong 😀
I don’t think you’re wrong at all. Amazon provided a service that did feed the societal “need-it-now” attitude. Technology is making things available immediately at the click of a button. You typically don’t have to wait that long to get something from Amazon (for me, I have Prime, so I get 2-day shipping). It means if I can wait the 2 days, I don’t have to make the effort to get to my nearest independent bookstore, and can get the book for a cheaper cost. You’re right, it’s hard for bookstores to compete with that.
The way for authors to help bookstores would be to do an old-fashioned book signing tour and sell limited editions when they visit. That would get people in the stores and purchasing from the stores directly.
My main issue with the digital versus the tangible is the sterile form of the E-book. Perhaps I am beset with an abundance of nostalgia, but there is something to the incorporation of all the senses as we take to our favorite settle to and immerse ourselves.
The crispness of each new page, or the smell of an age worn tome that speaks of a history all its own, elevating the value of the material within. And most importantly, the issue of time. Each page is ours to turn, or linger upon, a even to stop altogether and reflect, with no need to worry about the finite creep of battery time, this being an absolute anchor to reality and the world it represents, when the greatest reads take us far away from both and are at times better for it.
I like your poetic take on what a physical book offers. It is a different experience all together. And I was anti-e-reader when the Kindle first came out. As an English teacher and English major, I just couldn’t bring myself to use one. And then I downloaded the app and enjoyed the convenience it afforded me. When I bought my first Kindle, I was hooked with the convenience. Also, because of how many physical books I own, I was running out of shelf space. Now, I have a huge library all in one device. My bookshelves are saved for my lovies that I still want to have that intimate relationship with!
Thank you for making ANY poetic inference to what I might write. The reason for my sentimental take on the physical book is the recollections of so many life defining moments to which a “book” has been the catalyst for it.
I believe that memories are our true wealth as lives roll along, and I am not ready to part with my treasures just yet.
I’ve got my memories, too. And you’re right – they are treasures. I still have my books from my bookshelves growing up, and will have them all my life. And maybe we’re risking those kinds of memories with e-readers and e-books.
That’s the real crux of the argument between the physical and the digital, for me at least.
We are defined by the sum of our life experienced acutely, and from this how we may engage the world about us. There is a lack of “grounding” in this regard with the E-read, I think, though time may prove me wrong on this.
Well, I know that my books will stay with me all my life. But technology changes, and things become obsolete. So…what happens to our e-books when e-readers are gone? Do we download the files somewhere? Can they be updated to work on new technology? Or will we lose them forever? That’s an interesting and scary thought – that books in e-book form could be just temporary and disappear.
I am filled with an anxious wonder every single time I walk into a bookstore or Library, and yes, a single E-reader can place each and every book that would fill my sight in these moments in the palm of my hand… taking with it any sense of majesty.
That’s an interesting perspective – standing in the bookstore knowing all of it could be in the palm of your hand. Progress and fear all at the same time.
Perhaps I relate the obsolescence of books to my own, as technological advancements and progress in general eclipses the nostalgic. I fear that the new medium of seeing where we come from(In the books that have been written) we will miss the important part, and that being how we got there.
I respect King’s choice a lot- but this does pose interesting issues for the future of bookstores and ebooks. Kindles, at the end of the day, are more convenient, and people like convenience, so I don’t know how much King’s choice will change anything in the long run.
I think you’re right – he alone won’t change things. But if his book does well, then other authors could follow suit. It’s a noble cause to support bookstores. But there’s got to be a way to support them and digital books as well!
I have a suggestion: Take the Kobo pledge. I just published a post explaining what it is and how to do it. http://wp.me/p2mPRS-rN
You get credit because you gave me the idea when you said, “But there’s got to be a way to support them and digital books as well!”
This is soooo tempting. What keeps me from being first in line to sign is that right now, Amazon’s KDP Select program is one of the best ways for a debut indie author to be seen and distributed on their site. I like Kobo a lot, and really like that they partnered with indie bookstores. I will have to do some serious thinking about it as I know the market is changing right now, and there’s going to be a bigger player that will give Amazon a run for its money soon. Maybe it is Kobo!
If you are an indie author, you can still publish through Amazon Kindle. As authors, we want to reach the widest reading audience possible, so we offer our work as tree books through Lightning Source and/or Create Space ( may use same ISBN and release paperbacks through both at the same time).
Authors may also distribute e-books through Draft2Digital or Smashwords at the same time that an e-book is released through Amazon KDP.
But as readers, our habits are different. For example, I buy tree books through Amazon, indie bookstores (aka: Half Price Books) and at Costco. But as a reader of e-books, I may read on any E-reader out there and that E-reader may be a Kobo. Kobo says it has 3 million titles and indie authors may distribute books through Draft2Digital and reach Kobo, Nook, iPad, and the Amazon Kindle.
To clarify: I’m not saying authors only publish through Kobo. Authors should publish and distribute through as many sources as possible. If your work is through kdp Select that should not impact your reading habits.
I’m suggesting that readers only buy and read Ebooks through indie bookstores and read them on a Kobo.
Ahhhh, I’m with you! I get it now. But isn’t it funny that the intent changes slightly depending on whether I have my author hat on or my reader hat? With the new Kobo, I have to say that I’m very intrigued. It could be they might get a loyal Kindle carrier to switch…
Yes, as authors we want our work to reach as many readers as possible, but as readers we decide how we want to read and where to buy what we read just like the readers who buy our books.
My work has been sold and read on Kindle, Nook, iPad, Kobo, Sony and paper.
But as readers, we can’t be expected to read books on all five of these Ereaders and paper at the same time.
To me, there is nothing that compares to the feel of a bound book of print. I don’t get ebooks and I encourage my children to appreciate a real book instead of a manifestation of art through code. I applaud this effort to keep books bound and in the shelves.
You bring up one of the genres that I don’t think translates as well to e-book, which is children’s through middle grade books. Also, I think schools should keep libraries full of books and encourage reading time. I think it’s harder to convey a love of books to kids through an e-reader. And I love my books from my childhood – they’re still on my shelves!
I love the feel of a real book in my hand. But at the same time,I also love the e-book. I also love the authors that give us readers a choice.
I agree. I like the choice. And I can’t say that I go through any big decision-making process when choosing on the fly. Although I can say that if the book is very large, I will usually pick the e-book instead.
Interesting. For me personally, I threw out 700+ hard copies (donated to a low income reservation library to be correct) because they are too cumbersome. I won’t be reading his book … Because paper is just too cumbersome.
It’s funny you said this. I was just looking at one of my bookshelves tonight thinking about which ones I’d be willing to donate or give away. It’s not as hard for some of my books as I thought it might be. But I know that I’m not a total e-book convert. I’ll keep the ones I just can’t part with.
I kept one shelf full 🙂
I think I’d miss secondhand bookshops most of all. I love the feel of an old pre- loved book. Love my kindle though. What a dilemma
Do we know what King’s reasons were exactly?
I’m sorry to disagree with you, but I’m thrilled that Stephen King is taking this stand! I hate e-books and will ONLY buy paper books. So, good for him! I’ll buy Joyland just because of that.
And I will wait for your review of Joyland as I won’t buy the paperback. I hope it’s a good book that gives a great book-in-hand experience for you!
~ I understand King’s predicament but yeah, you’re right — can’t we all just get along? I love the physical books and currently, I am loving the e-books bec. it is just as convenient to take with me anywhere, not to mention the space constraints in my rented room with a fellow bed spacer. So for me, space matters. As much as I want to flip the pages of a real book, I do flip on my tablet these days. Congrats on being FP, voracious reader! 🙂
Not wanting to change to topic much but I just discovered—and it may be that everyone else already knows this—that one of Steven King’s sons is also an author writing in the same genre as his father. He goes by the name of Joe Hill, because he wanted to get published without anyone knowing he was King’s son. Now that he’s made it BIG (NY Times Bestsellers) on his own through a pen name, he came out of the closet—so to speak—and was interviewed in the July/August Writer’s Digest Magazine.
He even kept it a secret from his agent until recently.
That’s really cool that he wanted to do it on his own. And it also means that he’s gone through his own gauntlet to make him a NYT Bestseller. It’s also cool that King let his son grow and develop as a writer on his own!
Reblogged this on L. V. Lewis and commented:
I suppose those who still love and rabidly consume his books will continue to do so, but I have to wonder if failing to provide an e-book option will come to bite him in his digital katookis!
No one can say why exactly King’s has taken this decision. And I’m not say he has taken a stand against e-book publishing, but doing so wouldn’t be fair to other authors. So many authors have had their dreams realized this way and are plenty grateful for it. King and a few other authors got picked by traditional publishers while others were left behind. Some of these left-behind authors refused to give up and took their careers into their own hands, and when they turned successful, showed others the way to do it. I firmly believe it’s a grand thing. Everyone should have the right to pursue their dream. And I do believe we can all get along. We can all work to make the other grow.
I’m with the “team” feel for authors rather than little kingdoms. But I know that King did say, “I have no plans for a digital version. Maybe at some point, but in the meantime, let people stir their sticks and go to an actual bookstore rather than a digital one.” So he’s not totally anti-digital, but he’s definitely making a clear stand this time.
It’s a new world right now where many authors can put their stuff out in different ways. The winners are the readers who now have so much material that they can choose from to read.
Yes, he said he was supporting bookstores, but he’s also a pioneer (in terms of established authors) at getting into e-books.
The matter here seems simpler than one book format vs. another. The book is a throwback to the era of pulp fiction that just begs to be a physical book. No risk for King: he doesn’t need the money. But it’s good fun coming out with a book with a pulp cover in a digital age.
Nice post. Enjoyed reading it.
Thank you. Yes, someone else in the comments pointed out that Joyland was a throwback pulp fiction book. And for that particular genre, a paperback fits. That’s proof that books are their own things that don’t necessarily fit in one box. And based on the cover, it will fit in well with other pulp fiction.
I don’t see why we can’t have both. While I do most of my reading on my Kobo I regularly buy a first edition of any book I really like also. Surely if someone buys a real book they should also be given the option of downloading a digital version for free.
I’ll be honest. I sometimes buy both. I’ve got repeats of e-books of books I already have in physical form. I’m the publisher’s dream customer! But sometimes it’s because I need to use my e-reader for traveling. Or if I bought a collector’s edition or signed copy, I don’t want to read something that I want preserved.
King says that he’s not saying no to an e-book version of Joyland all together, but he is saying not right now.
It’s an interesting move. On the one hand, I love hardcover books for my very favourites. (And my best loved book I have both in e and hardcover.) I love bookstores but I have to admit progress marches on whether we’re prepared for it or not.
As a writer, I plan on publishing my book both ways. I have to say I find it kind of cool that I know I can publish my book whether a big publishing house is interested in me or not. (I write speculative fiction.)
Right now it’s sort of the wild wild west in publishing. No one knows what’s going to happen. I know that for myself, right this minute, I have more opportunity as a writer than I have at any time in my life. Will that always stay true? That’s part of what the questions are about, I think.
I like your analogy of publishing to the wild wild west. Right now, there are more options. But the biggest player for self-publishing is Amazon. All they have to do is make changes, and it can cut off the self-published authors. It’s still an option that is in flux. On the other side, traditional publishing doesn’t know what to do to keep up with the times or how they can keep the largest piece of their pie.
While I’m paying attention to the game (as are you), I do hope to get finished with my own work in time to just try and play the game!
Reblogged this on Determined.
Really interesting piece, thank you.
Thanks for taking the time to read it!
Good write-up! It may be in this case that Joyland is being published with Hard Case Crime, so this book may not be the prime example of what Stephen’s ultimate motivations with digital are.
HCC is a smaller independent publisher specializing in pulp fiction reissues and new fiction in the hard-boiled crime genre. It’s entirely possible that HCC may benefit more from this decision than King does, and he’s just willing to play the role of the bad guy to the general public.
And, HCC has a built-in sense of nostalgia — all their books are physically designed to resemble old dime pulps, down to slightly lurid covers, so there’s a certain nerd factor in making people buy it on paper. He’s a fan of that genre, and he could’ve easily just released the book under his standard terms with his usual publisher, but he chose to make it part of a line of other, similar books.
That, I can completely appreciate — and having just finished the book in question, if you’re going to be a digital snob and not pick it up, you’re missing out, it’s one of his best . . . probably partly due to the fact that he needed to land it under a certain page count and wasn’t able to wander off into Indulgenceville and make it a doorstopper.
I like my Kindle, too, but I think that trying to spin this that King is telling you to dump your digital in the trash by not putting out Joyland in e-book is stretching it a bit. If he really hated digital, he’s got enough clout to make that displeasure known on a much grander scale than a fairly slim 260-page paperback.
Oh, you’re the first person to say you’ve read the book. Is it really worth reading? I like King’s writings, but typically am a fan of his more fantasy side of things. But if you say that Joyland is worth it, I may have to pick that one up. I’ll especially be more interested in it if it’s not one of King’s baggy monsters to hold!
I think that King is making a play for Joyland specifically. It just happens to come at a time where there’s a lot of unrest amongst the traditionally published authors against self-publishing. My bet is that an e-book will be available at a much later date. And I think he’ll have e-books for his future books for sure!
Joyland is probably one of his top five books, in my opinion (and I’ve been a Constant Reader for decades). Because he doesn’t have the space to ramble, the writing is very taught and lean and really focused, and there’s a really bittersweet emotional tone that reminds me a lot of The Body / Stand By Me, just with a bit of noir grit mixed in.
I think it is a passing of the guard type thing, though, with e-books. The age of the mega author like King, Clancy, Grisham, etc., is done. There’s simply too many different entertainment possibilities for someone to really stand out the way they did in their time when we were less distracted.
Now it’s more Rowling and Meyer, who are doing series books that have a lot of transmedia possibities, and I think that offends some of the old guard who were used to people buying into the writing itself, not the characters that appear across different media platforms.
There’s a lot more that the old guard are offended by, but I don’t know if King stands firmly with them. I know he supports bookstores, but I think every writer does. I’m really intrigued by Joyland now based on your recommendation. I think I may have to hit the local bookstore to pick it up!