Horror master Stephen King's latest chiller will be published on 14 March exclusively as an e-book downloadable from the internet.
His book, Riding The Bullet, is a 16,000 word tale described by King as "a ghost story in the grand manner". The only way for King's legions of loyal fans to read it will be to pay $2.50 to Simon & Schuster Online (www.simonandschuster.com) in return for a downloadable e-book.
"I'm curious to see what sort of response there is and whether or not this is the future," said King, who wrote the book shortly after his near-fatal accident in June 1999. King has since written several works. Riding the Bullet is his first work to go directly to readers via the internet.
Simon & Schuster is making the story available for download at a number of sites run by e-book vendors such as Glassbook, netLibrary and SoftBook Press, as well as at its own site.
Despite the efforts of its supporters in the publishing industry, the e-book has yet to take off as a popular format, owing to the lack of a convenient portable reading device and a common industry-wide file format. For publishers, the attraction of the e-book is the fact that it eliminates printing and physical distribution - easily the most expensive part of their business.
This is not King's first technological foray: earlier this year he launched F13, a CDRom published by Blue Bytes Software (www.bluebyte.com) which he described as "Frightware". Actually, it was a rather disappointing collection of low budget games and screensavers bundled with a novella called Everything's Eventual.
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