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Is Stephen King standing up for print?

July 25, 2009 | 11:47 am


This fall, Stephen King and his publisher, Scribner, will make autographed first editions of his new novel "Under the Dome" available on their websites for $200 apiece. They plan to sell up to 1500 copies of the signed books.

"This is fighting back against the disappearance of the book as an object," Susan Moldow, publisher of Scribner, told the Wall Street JournaI.

Who, exactly, are they fighting? If it's the emergence of the ebook and readers such as Amazon's Kindle, it seems Stephen King's target is ... Stephen King.

When Amazon announced the next-generation Kindle 2 in February, King was the only author to join Jeff Bezos on stage. He'd written a Kindle-only story, "UR," which debuted with the new device (it's since been released in audio too). King is so Kindle-friendly that instead of the standard white plastic version, Amazon made him a pink Kindle 2, to match the one that appears in "UR."

It seems less like King is taking an, er, stand against disappearing books than he is a polymorphic writer, one happy to explore any and all forms of publication. He's written a Web-only series, novellas, serial novels, poems, essays, short stories, really big books and comic books, and welcomed film adaptations of his work. Maybe when a writers is as prolific as Stephen King, he seeks to get his writing out to readers whichever way he can.

Due to hit shelves Nov. 10, "Under the Dome" is another of King's kind of scary, kind of sci-fi book set in Maine. A plot synopsis is after the jump.

On an entirely normal, beautiful fall day in Chester’s Mill, Maine, the town is inexplicably and suddenly sealed off from the rest of the world by an invisible force field. Planes crash into it and fall from the sky in flaming wreckage, a gardener’s hand is severed as “the dome” comes down on it, people running errands in the neighboring town are divided from their families, and cars explode on impact. No one can fathom what this barrier is, where it came from, and when — or if — it will go away.

Dale Barbara, Iraq vet and now a short-order cook, finds himself teamed with a few intrepid citizens — town newspaper owner Julia Shumway, a physician’s assistant at the hospital, a select-woman, and three brave kids. Against them stands Big Jim Rennie, a politician who will stop at nothing — even murder — to hold the reins of power, and his son, who is keeping a horrible secret in a dark pantry. But their main adversary is the Dome itself. Because time isn’t just short. It’s running out.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Stephen King in 2000. Credit: Ron Frehm / Associated Press