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Stephen King's "Riding the Bullet": The First Mass-Market E-Book + A Video Interview

3/14/2000 to 2010

On March 24, 2000 American author of contemporary horror, suspense, science fiction and fantasy Stephen King first published a novella entitled Riding the Bullet as an electronic book through Simon & Schuster, using technology by Softlock. Available for $2.50, it was the first mass-market e-book. However, there were technical problems with downloading, and hackers eventually cracked the encryption.

"During the first 24 hours, over 400,000 copies of 'Riding the Bullet' were downloaded, jamming SoftLock's server. Some Stephen King fans waited hours for the download.

"With over 500,000 downloads, Stephen King seemed to pave the way of the publishing future. The actual number of readers was unclear because the encryption caused countless computers to crash.

"The financial success of the electronic publication was doubtful. Initially offered at $2.50 by SoftLock and Simon & Schuster, Amazon and Barnes and Noble gave free downloads.

"A movie adaptation of the story, starring Jonathan Jackson and David Arquette, was released in 2004" (Wikipedia article on Riding the Bullet, accessed 10-19-2013).

♦In 2010 Stephen King was interviewed on CNN about the present state and future of books and ebooks:

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