In what might be a first for Stephen King, the legendary author’s newest short story is only available online, and not through a traditional bookseller — instead, it’s available through the site Humble Bundle, which sells digital content to benefit charities.
“Red Screen,” a previously unpublished King work, tells the tale of a cop interrogating a deranged plumber who just murdered his wife. As one might expect, there’s much more to the story than a straightforward murder — though King has leaned into true crime, science fiction and other less frightening genres in more recent years, he can still pull out the horror stops when he feels like it.
The story is available via Humble Bundle for a limited time, through Thursday. Buyers can pay what they want — as little as five dollars, or as high as they want to go. All proceeds benefit the American Civil Liberties Union, an organization that has defended King’s work many times as a number of his books have been banned in schools and libraries across the country over the decades. As of Tuesday morning, the sale had raised nearly $125,000.
King has often been ahead of the curve when it comes to releasing his works in different formats. His 2000 novella, “Riding the Bullet,” was touted at the time as the world’s first mass market ebook, published by Simon & Schuster using software by the company SoftLock. The book was so popular that it crashed SoftLock’s site. It eventually sold more than 500,000 copies, and was the first big success story for ebooks, helping to pave the way for the rise of digital publishing.