Horror writer Stephen King's experiment with honesty and e-publishing seems to be working. More than three-quarters of the people who have downloaded the first instalment of his new book have paid the $1 fee.
"If we've proved nothing else, we've proved that the guy who shops for entertainment on the net can be as honest as the one in a retail bricks and mortar store," said King on his www.stephenking.com website.
Late last month King decided to bypass all aspects of the publishing establishment by asking readers who click on to read and download the first instalment of The Plant to pay $1 either by credit card or cheque.
If 75 per cent of the people who visit the site pay for the first two instalments, King promises to deliver a third in September.
King is operating an honour system. As there is no encryption technology involved, there is nothing to stop readers simply downloading the instalments and not sending the money. So far, however, 116,200 - or 76.38 per cent - of the 152,132 downloads have either paid or promised to pay.
"The pay-through rate has been higher than I dared hope," said King.
The writer reported this week that he is already working on the third instalment, and hinted that there could be as many as eight to follow.
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