Too much is being made of Stephen King's Joyland going print-only. So his initial run will be paper-exclusive, intended to help bookstores and accentuate some nostalgia for the pulp presses that inspired his detective novel. He is now being misquoted as thinking e-books aren't real books and decried as a luddite.
|She really wanted to read it on that camera.|
This outrage is nonsense. King didn't say e-books aren't real books, and he's moving with only one of the three titles he's publishing this year. It's not a trend, not an attack on your device, and because King didn't sell you your e-reader, you're not entitled to his works on it. I type this as though almost anyone has read all of the books he's published on Kindle.
Remember: this is a Stephen King joint. There are at least fifty of those available on e-readers, so if you're really jonesing for unread King on June 4th, and just can't envision reading one any other way than off a screen, I guarantee you there is one already on that service you haven't read yet. His sons also just published two novels on it this year. Wait a few months and King himself will release Doctor Sleep on all those lovely devices. There are already a myriad of authors you can only read on the Kindle, and soon there may well be legal Stephen King fan fiction for you to buy too.
That you'll have to wait a bit longer for a digital version of this newness is perhaps a nuisance on a platform already overflowing with cheaply priced content. It'd only be alarming if you feared that this would begin a trend in publishing. If you rely on your e-reader primarily or exclusively, you want books to keep hitting that thing. That? That I dig.
But it's not a trend. Stephen King is a nutty edge-case in publishing whose "The Plant" preceded the e-market so greatly it bombed for lack of an audience, who just published "Guns," an exclusive Kindle Single, and who waved a pink Kindle on stage for Jeff Bezos. He writes so much that he can pledge something like UR to one market for a while, and that's what he's doing with Joyland. King does this kind of stuff. J.K. Rowling, Suzanne Collins and James Patterson won't follow – in fact, across their careers, their works have marched toward the digital. If you're in it for the money or to reach the most people, you want to hit all formats.
No one's going to follow suit, either, because book stores don't have the profits to lobby, and because this probably won't help them much. Amazon.com already has a massive platform for heavily discounted paper books. And Joyland is going to show up in Wal-Marts and Targets, which will undercut the price bookstores can profit on. And soon thereafter, it'll be scanned, torrented and pirated onto every device you want. It's not going to work. It's not going to be a trend. Your digital future is safe.
Want to be pissed about something in publishing this week? How about Emily Giffin's husband stirring up her fans until they phoned a death threat to a reviewer?