A few days ago, bestselling author Stephen King took the world by surprise when he announced that his latest book, Joyland, would only be available on paper.
This news came as a shock to me. Stephen King has always been one of my heroes, a rather wise and clear-thinking representative of those two special groups of people called "readers" and "writers." He is also one of the individuals who I considered to be a pioneer in electronic publishing, breaking new ground in 2000 by posting an e-book that was downloadable from his own website, and—a year later—becoming the first mainstream author to publish a novel solely as an e-book.
I'm confused, Mr. King.
First, based on your comments to The Wall Street Journal, there seems to be an anti-technology undertone in your words. When asked how your devoted readers can get your new book, you said "…let people stir their sticks and go to an actual bookstore rather than a digital one."
With all due respect, Mr. King, my "stick" is doing just fine and does not need stirring. If you're implying that technology is somehow "bad," I don't agree. I love my tablet and smart phone and e-books every bit as much as you loved your ragged, dog-eared paperback books as a kid. If you are implying that technology is making everyone fat and lazy, well, there may be some truth in that...but is there anything more sedentary than the mere act of reading itself?
The second reason I'm confused, Mr. King, is that there seems to be some sort of political motivation behind your decision, a "Save the Paper Books!" mentality, something akin to saving the whales. Paper books are not an endangered biological species—they are the result of technological advancements that took place a few centuries ago, which some folks resisted, just as some resist the transition to e-books today. If you want to get political about this issue, it seems to me that a "Save the Trees!" campaign makes a lot more sense.
But the main reason I'm confused is that, as one of your loyal readers, your unexpected decision has a significant impact on me—a negative one. I don't currently live in the United States and it will be weeks before I can get your new book. The fastest way, despite your best intentions, will be for me to order it online, not go to a physical bookstore. I resent the fact that I will not be able to push a button and have it the same day that it hits the bookshops in New York City. I also resent the fact that you are trying to force me to read your book in a certain format—paper—instead of the format that I'm now comfortable with and is most convenient for me—e-books.
I'm the author of over 20 thriller and suspense novels, and I will continue to publish in electronic form across all the e-reading platforms so that my fans can have access to my books as quickly and as easily as possible.