Reprinted excerpt WSJ.com by Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg 05/19/13
Don’t expect to see an e-book edition any time soon of Stephen King’s new novel, “Joyland,” which will be published next month.
Mr. 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.”
Mr. King’s decision to support traditional book retailing comes at a time when many bookstores are struggling to compete with online retailers that sharply discount physical books and services that sell low-cost e-books. “Joyland,” set in a North Carolina amusement park in 1973, will hit stores June 4.
It is unclear whether any other high-profile writers will follow Mr. King’s example. Paul Ingram, the buyer for the Prairie Lights bookstore in Iowa City, Iowa, said he’s hoping they will. He lamented that browsing for books in stores has given way to people purchasing from computers and mobile devices.
“I’d just as soon not have people buy their books while typing a thank-you note,” Mr. Ingram said. He said his store’s traffic has “fallen off some” in recent years due in part to “the ease of getting books other places.”
Mr. King’s latest move to make “Joyland” only available as a physical book is essentially the reverse of what he did in 2000, when he became one of the country’s first writers to make a new work available exclusively in a digital format. Then, CBS Corp.’s CBS +3.97% Simon & Schuster publishing arm issued Mr. King’s 16,000-word ghost story “Riding the Bullet” as an e-book priced at $2.50.
Mr. King’s effort was treated as a potential turning point for a small but growing digital-publishing industry. Digital books generated $3 billion in publisher revenue in 2012, up 44% over the prior year, according to a recent study by BookStats, which tracks data from nearly 1,500 publishers.
“Joyland” is being published by Hard Case Crime, an independent publisher of old and new crime fiction paperbacks that boast the lurid but entertaining cover art that characterized pulp novels in the 1940s and 1950s. “Joyland” features a terrorized woman in a dress with a Ferris wheel in the background.
Eight years ago, Hard Case issued Mr. King’s novel “The Colorado Kid,” which . . .
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