Stephen King’s print-only book is now a pirated ebook

Stephen King during the "Kennedy Library Forum Series" at The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum on November 7, 2011 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Marc Andrew Deley/Getty Images)

Stephen King during the “Kennedy Library Forum Series” at The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum on November 7, 2011 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Marc Andrew Deley/Getty Images)

Stephen King’s latest novel, Joyland, was supposed to be published in a print-only edition by Hard Case Crime. The move was roundly applauded because it demonstrated some real faith in traditional print publishing. It was also a savvy business decision driving sales sky-high.

But as soon as it was released in paper, the book popped up online as a pirated ebook. In response, Hard Case Crime publisher Charles Ardai had a few things to say about it in an interview with Jason Boog at AppNewser:

“We’ve seen dozens of websites over the past year purporting to offer pirated downloadable copies of JOYLAND, and so far they’ve all been frauds – if you try to download the file, you get malware or a virus instead. But inevitably the book will eventually be pirated for real, just as every best-selling book and popular movie or TV show or piece of music is. As a publisher, you try to prevent it or to stamp it out when you discover it, but it’s like the “war on drugs” – good luck. Seize a boatload of heroin, and what does it get you? There are more boats, there’s more heroin. . . . In the end you have to rely on the good behavior of the vast majority of the audience – I see no reason to think that pirates represent more than a small fraction of all consumers. That doesn’t mean we don’t care about piracy – we do. But it’s just one of the many punches you have to learn to roll with in the rough-and-tumble world of modern publishing.”

It’s hard to see though how some pirated copies have actually slowed Joyland‘s meteoric rise up the bestseller charts. The book is currently the number one selling book on Amazon and has been in the Amazon Best Sellers Top 100 for the last two months.

Of course this feat is not likely to be replicated by many other writers. As everyone in the publishing business knows, people buy authors, not books. And the King brand name, along with a splashy publicity campaign, created a momentum guaranteeing massive sales. I don’t think King is losing sleep over these pirated copies, unless he’s thinking of using the idea in yet another novel.

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