|© Jorge Royan / http://www.royan.com.ar|
Almost as soon as I announced my intention to take a short break from the blog, I saw/read/heard things that made me say, "Oh! I've got to blog about that!" Naturally. But I'd broken too many promises in the past, too often I'd written, "Hey, on Friday, I'm going to…" and never done it. This time, I was determined to keep my promise.
Anyway, one of the items that caught my eye was the news that Stephen King's newest novel, Joyland (and I swear, I'm not getting paid for plugging this book in any way, shape or form--I wish I was!), was going to be released only in print. No e-book. No digital download. Just paperback (oh, and a limited edition hardback). Charles Ardai, co-founder and editor of Hard Case Crime, the book's publisher, wrote aninteresting article explaining the decision. "Presentation matters," Ardai said. Part of his purpose in founding Hard Case was to "replicate a pleasure from the past – not just the type of stories told in those old books but the physical artifact itself." Indeed, the books published by Hard Case have quite the, uh, retro look, the sort of covers that caused me to break into a sweat when I came across them in the early stages of adolescence. Ahem, enough about that.
In addition to recapturing a bit of the past, Mr. Ardai said that another reason for not doing a digital version of Joyland was because of his and Mr. King's "desire to support traditional booksellers." He goes on to say, "it’s frightening to see the decline in the fortunes of bookstores over the last handful of years." Indeed, it is. Supporting and saving bookstores is a noble notion, and it's great to have a heavy hitter like Stephen King in on the fight. Sadly, it's also a pointless gesture, I feel, but not because I am convinced that bookstores are going the way of the dinosaur. They might, but not yet, anyway. No, the reason this gesture is pointless is because Joyland is available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and as an audio book through iTunes. It's probably also sitting on the racks at Wal-mart and other non-bookstore booksellers. It seems to me that the only way to support traditional bookstores is to make the books available only through traditional bookstores, and that is just not going to happen (and I wonder--if King told Amazon, "Sorry, you can't sell this," what would happen? Lawsuit? Would Amazon break the "Buy now" links on all of King's books? Who knows?). Even a guy like Stephen King, who is playing with a huge pile of house money, isn't going to do that.