Stephen King Happy With Early Download Results

Posted on July 26, 2000

Stephen King has announced on his website early success with his web-only release of The Plant, a horror novel about a vampire-like plant taking over a publishing company. In addition to readers, the release is also frightening publishers, as King is publishing the story through Philtrum Press, his own publishing company. Amazon.com is providing assistance by facilitating transactions and processing credit card orders and check payments for the ebook.

King put his readers on the honor system to test whether they would be willing to pay for the downloads. According to the author, payment by credit card through Amazon.com is at 75% or higher. Stephen King and Marsha DeFilippo, the only two employees at Philtrum Press, think a pay-through of 85-90% is possible after the mailed-in payments have been counted. Despite what many media outlets have been saying, with continued downloads and payments, The Plant could end up being a big success. Over 40,000 people had downloaded the book within the first fifteen hours. According to King the number of downloads seems to be staying hot due to word-of-mouth. King says that news travels fast on the web and calls it "the 21st century version of the jungle telegraph."

Originally, King was only going to publish the third installment of the ebook if enough people paid for the first installments. With enough people pre-paying for the first installment King has already announced plans for additional installments. He tells readers that he finds it unlikely anyone will want to read installments of The Plant for 20 months, so he is going to publish less installments, but each installment will now contain more content. What King now proposes is "Episode 2, 6-7,000 words; Episode 3, 10-12,000 words. Download price in both cases would remain $1. Installments 4 through 7 or 8 would be much longer-perhaps as long as 25,000 words-and the download price would go up to $2.50."

The author plans to leave the media in the dark about the number of downloads and payments until July 31st when he will give trend figures on his website. In the meantime, The Plant seems to be taking over King's own website with new FAQs and comments appearing next to tiny plant icons.