Saturday, 2 June 2012

The Dead Tree Zone? In praise of Mr King

Stephen King has ruffled some electronic feathers (including the splendid plumage of ebook evangelist JA Konrath) by announcing that his new book for Hard Case Crime will be available in paperback only for the time being.

"I love crime, I love mysteries, and I love ghosts. That combo made Hard Case Crime the perfect venue for this book, which is one of my favorites. I also loved the paperbacks I grew up with as a kid, and for that reason, we’re going to hold off on e-publishing this one for the time being. Joyland will be coming out in paperback, and folks who want to read it will have to buy the actual book."

As an author whose work is currently available in ebook only, I don't have any issue with this. It makes a lot of sense for the type of book and publisher involved here. Hard Case Crime is a great imprint that specialises in new and classic thrillers, all with beautifully-painted covers that hark back to the golden age of the pulps.

Books like these remind me that, while I love my Kindle, it hasn't stop me from reading paperbacks, and it never will. You get different things from a paperback than you get from an ebook.

I don't understand those, like Konrath, who seem convinced that traditional paper books (or 'dead tree books' in the lingo) are obselete. A nicely-produced paperback novel gives you a touch, a feel, a smell - in other words a physicality - that you just can't get from an ebook. You can't beat an e-reader for convenience, and as someone who travels a lot, it's great not having to lug a couple of books around in my bag.

But ebooks are essentially the no-frills option of reading: you get the text and nothing else. An ebook is like Ryanair: it'll get you where you need to go, but it's not pretty. A thoughtfully-produced physical book, particularly between gorgeous covers like the one below, is the luxury option.

This was King's first book for Hard Case from a few years ago - I didn't think it was one of his best (although if you're Stephen King, the bar is set pretty high on that score), but the cover is amazing. And it looks so much better in real, glossy 'dead tree' life.

That's why I'm not worried about the demise of the printed book. A Kindle can give you a lot of wonderful things, but it can't give you a physical product.

And as luck would have it, my ebook Shining in the Dark - Stephen King: Page to Screen is available on free promotion from Amazon today and tomorrow.

Get it from:

Sales of Halfway to Hell have been pretty steady in the last month, and I think it might be to do with the sample chapters I've been including in this and the other books I've run free promotion days for. I hope this will generate a few more sales, but I also hope people will read and enjoy this one in the meantime.

And remember, if you download and enjoy, I always appreciate a review. Honest is good, five-star is better...

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