Stephen King's latest book will not go digital — for now

Whenever Stephen King releases a novel, readers line up to grab his latest book. But those looking to download the digital version of Joyland might never get the option.

King will not release Joyland as an e-book when it comes out on June 4, according to the Wall Street Journal.

King, an e-book pioneer, held on to the novel’s digital rights in hopes of spurring his fans to buy the print edition in bookstores. He said it is unclear when he will make the coming-of-age tale available digitally.

“I have no plans for a digital version,” Mr. King said. “Maybe at some point, but in the meantime, let people stir their sticks and go to an actual bookstore rather than a digital one.”

This seems like an interesting turn for King, who has been a proponent of e-books for several years. He has released several Kindle Singles, and in 2009, he joined Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos on stage to introduce the Kindle 2.

Joyland will be published through the independent Hard Case Crime, which previously released Colorado Kid (2005) by King.

It’s not expected that King will continue this trend when he releases more books. However, it will be interesting to see how authors follow in his path. Will more of them attempt to retain their digital rights in favor of giving booksellers a shot in the arm?

It’s an interesting precedent from an author who has been in favor of digital books up to this point.

7 Comments on Stephen King's latest book will not go digital — for now

  1. Name (required) // May 20, 2013 at 1:20 pm //

    I think it WILL go digital. Mr. King just won’t earn a penny from that digital content. Do you remember how quickly Harry Potter got scanned?

    Stephen King might be trying just to stirr up the controversy so we talk about the books and drum up some free advertising space – like this article here ;-).

  2. King has always had crazy ideas when it came to e-books. Sometimes that was good crazy, like “Riding the Bullet”. But then there was “The Plant,” which made King scads of money but he got to wriggle out of finishing it thanks to his unrealistic expectations for it going unfulfilled.

    I would tend to agree: this turkey is going to be mass-pirated. Sheet-feeding or page-turning scanners are cheap these days.

  3. “I have no plans for a digital version,” Mr. King said. “Maybe at some point, but in the meantime, let people stir their sticks and go to an actual bookstore rather than a digital one.”

    Yet they can pre-order the printed book on Amazon (for 40% off) and still not have to go to an “actual bookstore”.

    Just like when King and his publisher windowed the eBook of Under the Dome this book will likely be scanned and uploaded within 24 hours of release or perhaps before if one of the online stores ships a little early.

  4. To quote Steve Jobs’ letter to James Murdoch: “Without a way for customers to buy your ebooks, they will steal them. This will be the start of piracy, and once started there will be no stopping it. Trust me, I’ve seen this happen with my own eyes.”

    Sounds like a real pleasure for Hard Case Crime to have to deal with. I hope they feel honoured.

  5. The really funny thing is, King has macular degeneration. You’d think he of all people ought to be more sensitive to how easier e-books are for the blind to read.

    Well, whatever. He’ll learn the same lesson Rowling did, eventually, maybe.

  6. When he does release it in eBook form, because he’s doing it himself instead of his publishers, it will be at a fair price instead of at least $15.
    That’s why I prefer to read self published eBooks – if you look hard, you can find 5* books for a maximum of $6, and sometimes $1 or free and an entire trilogy for $5.
    There is no excuse for publishers to sell eBooks for the same price as paperback, and I wish more published authors kept their eBook rights (like Mike Stackpole does) and sell them themselves for a cheaper price but getting a larger amount per sale (95% of $5 is better than 35% for $15)

  7. Jakob Larsen // May 23, 2013 at 9:08 am //

    @Paul StJohn – Spot on!

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