King of horror returns to old-school publishing

Stephen King’s digital publication of Riding the Bullet in 2000 made him one of the pioneers of the e-book movement, but the master of horror has announced he will be sticking to print for his new novel, Joyland, so readers “will have to buy the actual book”.

The story of a college student who comes to a small-town North Carolina amusement park in 1973, only to confront “the legacy of a vicious murder, the fate of a dying child and the ways both will change his life forever”, Joyland will be published in June next year by independent pulp-crime press Hard Case Crime.

“I love crime, I love mysteries and I love ghosts,” said King. “I also loved the paperbacks I grew up with as a kid and, for that reason, we are going to hold off on e-publishing this one for the time being.

Joyland will be coming out in paperback and folks who want to read it will have to buy the actual book.” This is a major change for an author previously seen as a front­runner in digital publishing.

On releasing Riding the Bullet, the first mass-market e-book, in 2000, King said: “I am curious to see what sort of response there is and whether or not this is the future.” Two days later, half a million people had downloaded the novel.

Editor Charles Ardai — who ­published King’s novel The Colorado Kid for Hard Case Crime — said of Joyland: “It is a whodunnit, it is a carny novel, it is a story about growing up and growing old and about those who do not get to do either because death comes for them before their time. Even the most hard-boiled readers will find themselves moved.”

The ever-prolific King has another book out next year, a sequel to The Shining called Doctor Sleep, which will be published as an e-book as well as a hardback.


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