Courtesy of Publishers Weekly…

In August, Stephen King published “A Face in the Crowd,” which he co-wrote with Stewart O’Nan. The short has decent reviews and a story about a man who sees someone (someone eerie!) he recognizes in the stands at a baseball game. But what’s most significant about “A Face in the Crowd” is its cover, which looks like this:

But baseballskulls aside, the e-short is the latest in the legendary writer’s history with digital publishing, one that began in 2000 when “Riding the Bullet” was published. The novella was released by Simon & Schuster for $2.50 (it’s now $3.99) and sold over 400,000 copies in the first 24 hours, prompting this headline: “PDF eBooks are Here to Stay.”

PW‘s review was glowing, both about the story and about the possibility of having a book in cyperspace:

E-publishing takes a giant step with the release of this grandly entertaining ghost story. Not only is it the first original e-publication by a megaselling author, but it may be the most accomplished work ever to appear only in cyberspace–and it’s available through an unprecedented number of vendors and platforms.

Also in 2000, King started writing The Plant, his unfinished epistolary serial novel composed of six installments. King has stated that he’s just run out of ideas for the novel, but also that he’s made over half a million dollars from what he called his “e-book experiment.”

The novel was also notable because King put the book on his website unencrypted and allowed readers to pay $1 on the honor system. King stated that if the percentage of paying readers fell below 75%, he’d drop the project altogether. About The Plant, King said: “My friends, we have the chance to become Big Publishing’s worst nightmare.”

Read the complete article on Publishers Weekly here: Stephen King’s Strange E-Book History

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