I’m not really a Stephen King fan – horror isn’t my bag – although I admire his dedication as a writer. He himself has said that his writing gave him the will to live when he was seriously injured in a car accident in 1999. I have read a couple of his books – Carrie and one other whose title escapes me – and I can appreciate his work enough to see why it is compelling. He’s a true professional.
However, he managed to annoy me very seriously in the year 2000 (He was quite unaware of this, of course!) when he published Riding the Bullet, a short story, as an e-book and sold it from his own website. He sold more than 5,000 copies in twenty-four hours, which allowed him to claim that the role of the publisher was becoming defunct as digital publishing took hold. He took into account neither the fact that he had been supported patiently by his publisher through his early years as a writer nor that he had sold so many copies of Riding the Bullet because he was Stephen King; it was not a feat that any author could replicate.
I was therefore delighted to read in today’s Times that he has not only decided not to release the digital rights for his latest book, Joyland, but is also encouraging his fans to buy their print copies from bookshops (as opposed to online booksellers). “Support your local bookshop” seems to be his new mantra. On that point, Stephen King and I are in perfect accord. I’m sure that he’ll be relieved that I approve!