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The Death of the E-Book

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That got you didn’t it!

E-book sales (fiction) rose 42% in 2012 and non fiction e-book sales rose 22%. Hardback and paperback sales were either flat or dropped. Amazon’s e-book sales rose 70% last year, while its physical book sales rose only 5%. And in case you forgot Amazon started life as a physical book seller!

E-book sales have never had it so good.

ImageSo why would Stephen King publish his forthcoming book, Joyland, in physical form only? Joyland goes on sale on the 4th of June – ‘We’re going to hold off e-publishing… folks who want to read the book will have to buy the actual book,’ goes the promo.

Does Stephen King see something in the future, those of us firmly entrenched in the e-publishing ecosystem don’t see?

Nah.It’s more likely King wants to lend his weight to the bookshop which is fast disappearing in the Western world.That, and the fact that Joyland with its lurid covers will appeal to readers of pulp fiction in the physical form.

Will King’s decision make a difference to the decline of the bookstore? Not really. The decline of the bookshop started a long time back and is akin to the death of independent retail stores, whatever they sell, across the developed world.

That downward slope started happening because of two things. Something called economy-of-scale and another thing called the internet.

This does not mean that the printed format will  necessarily go the way of the T-Rex.  According to BookStats, while e-book sales rose 44% last year, print sales were flat. FLAT. They didn’t fall. In fact hardcover sales rose by 1.3%.

So what does all this mean to you and I, dear self-published author? All it means is that title was a contrarian one to get you to read this piece 🙂

And that with about 350 million sales under his belt, Stephen King can afford to have the odd Print-Only book.

And that’s enough of analysis. Back to writing.



  1. He’s supporting the brick and mortar bookstore. One bookstore owner (I forget exactly where and it doesn’t matter) said books by Stephen King often paid the rent on his store. I’m not surprised. I’ve been a lover of physical books we I was a wee tot -the heft, the smell, the whisper of turning pages-but I have embraced technology. I love the Kindle and other ebook readers, both as a reader and as an author.

  2. Interesting question about why he published in book form only.

  3. Andrew says:

    King’s move was all about pride and control. He was one of the first authors to do an e-only release (only too soon) and didn’t have a good experience with it, so, now, he’s trying to force everyone to do things his way, which is how he always is with his whole “real writers do it like I do it” attitude.

  4. King can do anything he wants because he’s, well, Stephen King. Having said that, he’s got a lot more common sense about the market than a boardroom full of stodgy publishers. However, I don’t think this decision means anything about the future of ebooks at all.

  5. HMCWriter says:

    I have a pretty good idea as to why he’s holding off. Why sell ‘almost’ the same thing, for a smaller price? Isn’t this cutting your nose off to spite your face? It’s a smart business choice.

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