June 18, 2013

Stephen King’s print only book available as pirated ebook


Stephen King is the author of Salem’s Lot and 473 other novels.

When Stephen King announced that his latest novel, Joyland, would be published in a print-only edition with indie publisher Hard Case Crime, the move seemed to demonstrate support for his publisher, some faith in traditional publishing, and a savvy publicity move.

Almost as soon as it was released, however, the book was available online as a pirated ebook, along with a wide variety of King’s other titles.

King hasn’t yet commented on the developments, but in response to the news, Hard Case Crime publisher Charles Ardai, told Jason Boog at AppNewser that,

“We’ve seen dozens of websites over the past year purporting to offer pirated downloadable copies of JOYLAND, and so far they’ve all been frauds – if you try to download the file, you get malware or a virus instead. But inevitably the book will eventually be pirated for real, just as every best-selling book and popular movie or TV show or piece of music is. As a publisher, you try to prevent it or to stamp it out when you discover it, but it’s like the “war on drugs” – good luck. Seize a boatload of heroin, and what does it get you? There are more boats, there’s more heroin…In the end you have to rely on the good behavior of the vast majority of the audience – I see no reason to think that pirates represent more than a small fraction of all consumers. That doesn’t mean we don’t care about piracy – we do. But it’s just one of the many punches you have to learn to roll with in the rough-and-tumble world of modern publishing.”

He’s right, really. It’s also hard to say that a small fraction of pirated copies really detracted from Joyland‘s overall sales.  Joyland is the number one selling book on Amazon right now, and has held a place in the “top 100” for sixty-nine days.

This feat would not be likely to be repeated by many other authors, but the King name, combined with a newsy publicity campaign, has served the print-only edition very well. I doubt King is losing much sleep over a few poorly constructed pirate copies.


Ariel Bogle is a publicist at Melville House.