NEW YORK (AP) - The latest weapon in the publishing price wars: Stephen King.
Scribner announced Wednesday that the digital edition of King's "Under the Dome," a 1,000-plus page novel, would not be released until Dec. 24, virtually the end of the holiday season and a month after the hardcover.
E-books have already been delayed for Sen. Edward Kennedy's "True Compass" and Sarah Palin's "Going Rogue" as publishers try to prevent the cheaper digital editions from taking sales from hardcovers, which, until recently, cost more.
"Given the current state of the marketplace and trends in digital book pricing, we believe that this is the most appropriate publishing sequence for this particular 1088 page work of fiction," said spokesman Adam Rothberg of Scribner's parent company, Simon & Schuster.
Thanks to an online price war among Target.com, Amazon and Walmart.com, the hardcover for "Under the Dome," ''Going Rogue" and other popular November releases can be pre-ordered for $9 or less, a strong source of concern among publishers and independent booksellers, who cannot afford to charge so little.
"Under the Dome" will have the same list price as the hardcover, $35. Amazon.com and other online retailers have been offering best-selling e-editions for $9.99, which publishers worry is unrealistically low.
King, ironically, is a pioneer and champion of e-books. In 2000, his e-novella "Riding the Bullet" was initially offered for free and became an online sensation, downloaded so many times that Internet sites offering the book were overwhelmed.
In February 2009, when Amazon.com announced a new edition of its Kindle e-reader, King's novella "Ur" was offered exclusively through the device and incorporated the Kindle into the narrative.