NEW YORK — 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 have a list price of $35, several dollars higher than for what e-books usually are listed. Amazon.com and other online retailers have been offering best-selling e-editions for $9.99, which publishers fear is unrealistically low.
“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.
Amazon.com and others already have been losing money by offering such deep discounts and presumably would lose even more if they sold King’s for $9.99.
In another shot at the e-market, King’s e-book will not be released until Dec. 24, virtually the end of the holiday season and a month after the hardcover. E-books already have 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.
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.
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.