If you haven’t heard of Stephen King, you’ve had your head in the “cloud” too long. The world famous author of horror stories has sold more than 350 million copies. He was one of the first well-known authors to put his writings into the eBook format, releasing Riding the Bullet thirteen years ago.
You might have seen other works of this eBook pioneer on TV, in the movies, and even in comic book form. Next month, he is returning to the traditional paper and ink print version when he releases his latest novel, Joyland, in paperback. It is already listed on Amazon at the pre-release price of $7.77. His first eBook was priced at $2.50.
The question is, will his fans flock to the local bookstore to thumb through a physical book, a format considered cumbersome and pricey by some. If they do, what does that say about eBooks’ future? Will other authors follow suit, returning to hold-it-in-your-hand paper formats? There, writer’s may stand to glean a greater reward than what they can pocket from sales of lower priced eBook versions.
Kings’ print version will be published by Hard Case Crime, an independent publisher which also put out The Colorado Kid, a novel that is its best selling title. The company focuses on fictional crime topics that retain the unique cover art of pulp novels from the 1940’s. The hand-drawn cover style itself has been somewhat revived in the graphic novel comic book craze. Those old paperbacks featured scantily clad women in perilous situations. Not exactly PC considering today’s admonition to not encourage the victimization of females. Curious that King would revert to such an image.
The setting for Joyland is an amusement park located in North Carolina. The stylistic cover features a screaming girl dressed in a skimpy short dress with a Ferris wheel in the background, ala 1940’s paperback covers. Perhaps the writing style will be 1940-ish also. It should be on retail shelves as of June 4. Give your local bookstore a boast by buying it from them.
Publishers saw $3 billion in revenue from eBook sales in 2012. King, however, is a multi media author. The Wind through the Keyhole was released in large print hard cover, trade and mass market paperbacks, eBooks, and audio downloads. Formats are available from Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and the publisher of the Dark Tower Series, Simon and Schuster. Prices range from $36.95 to $9.99. So you can see, format matters. The prices are also indicative of production costs relative to expected marketplace purchases.
King cranked out book after book in the Dark Tower Series, now available in Kindle, paperback and audio formats
BookStats’ latest compilation indicates that in 2011, brick-and-mortar retail was still the top sales distribution channel for publishers. King says “I have no plans for a digital version” [of Joyland]. But he adds “Maybe at some point…” Perhaps he is testing the waters, or just making a last ditch effort to support the printing business or your local bookstore, while many retail businesses flail against the ease of internet shopping.
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