Stephen King Releases Online-Only Novella

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Stephen King's publisher, Simon & Schuster, tried something new yesterday, releasing a book by a major author solely as a $2.50 online download. Described by King as a "ghost story in the grand manner," "Riding the Bullet" is only 16,000 words — roughly equivalent to 40 printed pages — but the Internet experiment is a major milestone for the nascent e-books industry.

King wrote "Bullet" while recuperating from a near-fatal accident last June, when he was walking on a country road near his summer home in Lovell, Maine, and was hit by a minivan. In December King also participated in a fund-raising test of the same "digital rights management" technology that is supposed to copy-protect downloaded files. Last year he pushed the limits of other publishing outlets, releasing a three-story collection called "Blood and Smoke" exclusively in audio book format. In a statement about his new download, King said, "I'm curious to see what sort of response there is and whether or not this is the future." MORE >>