Stephen King releases a Kindle Exclusive


Stephen King did something strange on Friday. He crept into the Kindle Store, and released a new exclusive that he’d just finished writing. But it wasn’t a horror novel, or even a scary short story. Instead, it was a personal essay about something dangerous in the real world. Stephen King released a Kindle Single called Guns.

For a shortcut, just point your web browser to

It’s a surprisingly good read, trying to offer the same understanding of our universal fears that have characterized his novels. Using taut prose, he describes how the media reacts to the horrors of a shooting. (“Few of the trigger-pullers are middle-aged, and practically none are old. Some are young men; many are just boys. The Jonesboro, Arkansas, school shooters were 13 and 11…”) According to a British newspaper, he’d just finished writing the essay less than 10 days ago. “Once I finished writing Guns I wanted it published quickly,” King announced in a statement on Friday, “and Kindle Singles provided an excellent fit.”

Amazon was delighted. (“It’s exciting to offer a way for a brilliant writer like King to publish quickly,” Amazon added in the same press release, “and to reach a large audience of loyal readers and new customers.”) David Blum, editor of Kindle Singles, said that they’d agreed to publish King’s essay within hours of receiving it. “By that night we had accepted it and scheduled for publication…”

It’s already become the #1 best-seller in the nonfiction section of Amazon’s store for Kindle Singles. (Though ironically, the #2 best-seller in the nonfiction section is a parody about the life of Vice President Biden by The Onion.) But King had another reason for publishing this 25-page essay as a Kindle Single, according to the article in Britain’s Guardian newspaper. He “wanted it published as soon as possible, given the Obama administration’s looming battle with the National Rifle Association and its allies.”

America is in the middle of a nationwide debate about the possibility of new gun control laws. And King’s essay “stresses that he is an unapologetic gun-owner with at least half a foot in the conservative camp of the US divide,” the Guardian notes. But he’s calling for a ban on automatic and semi-automatic weapons, calling them weapons of mass destruction. “When lunatics want to make war on the unarmed and unprepared, these are the weapons they use.”

The essay also takes a surprising turn when King remembers that some teenaged gunman claimed that their inspiration came from a story written by Stephen King — the 1977 novel Rage. King wrote it when he was a teenager himself, and later published it under his pen name, Richard Bachman. According to the Guardian, King’s essay “did not apologise for writing Rage — ‘no, sir, no ma’am’ — because it told the truth about high-school alienation and spoke to troubled adolescents who ‘were already broken’. However, he said, he ordered his publisher to withdraw the book because it had proved dangerous.”

“My book did not break (them) or turn them into killers,” reads a quote from King’s essay on The Huffington Post. “[T]hey found something in my book that spoke to them because they were already broken. Yet I did see Rage as a possible accelerant which is why I pulled it from sale. You don’t leave a can of gasoline where a boy with firebug tendencies can lay hands on it.”

King remains firm in his opposition to censorship, but also criticizes the staunch gun advocates who take an absolute position which he characterizes as “to hell with the collateral damage”.

I didn’t pull Rage from publication because the law demanded it; I was protected under the First Amendment and the law couldn’t demand it. I pulled it because in my judgement it might be hurting people, and that made it the responsible thing to do. Assault weapons will remain readily available to crazy people until the powerful pro-gun forces in this country decide to do a similar turnaround. They must accept responsibility, recognizing that responsilibity is not the same as culpability. They need to say, ‘we support these measures not because the law demands we support them, but because it’s the sensible thing.’

Until that happens, shooting sprees will continue.

Playboy Comes to the Kindle – Sort of

Playboy magazine interviews are now Kindle ebooks

There was a surprising announcement yesterday morning. Playboy magazine is now making content available for the Kindle! But there was something even more surprising about the announcement. The content Playboy was making available was their interviews with famous people. (And not their notorious centerfolds…)

“Playboy has curated 50 of its best interviews from the past 50 years in a special 50 day promotion,” reads the announcement. It promises a new interview will be released every day for the next 50 days – and each one will cost just 99 cents. Today’s interview is with one of football’s most famous all-star quarterbacks, Joe Namath. And they kicked off the promotion Tuesday, publishing Playboy’s very first interview from 1962, with jazz legend Miles Davis.

At Amazon, each interview’s description includes the story of how this tradition got started. “In mid-1962, Playboy founder Hugh Hefner was given a partial transcript of an interview with Miles Davis. It covered jazz, of course, but it also included Davis’s ruminations on race, politics and culture. Fascinated, Hef sent the writer – future Pulitzer-Prize-winning author Alex Haley, an unknown at the time – back to glean even more opinion and insight from Davis. The resulting exchange, published in the September 1962 issue, became the first official Playboy Interview and kicked off a remarkable run of public inquisition that continues today…”

But you won’t find them if you search the Kindle Store for Playboy. (Although you will find some amateur erotic fiction, a tell-all memoir by Hugh Hefner’s girlfriend, and a chance to subscribe to Maxim magazine). There’s also the Playboy book of cigars and a collection of the magazine’s Playboy Advisor” columns. But you have to specifically search on Playboy interview to find these new releases. (Or, point your browser to this shortcut — .)

Thursday they’ll publish their interview with Martin Luther King as an ebook. Friday’s interview will be Jack Nicholson. They’ll even be republishing their headline-making interview with future president Jimmy Carter. “50 Years of the Playboy Interview features one-of-a-kind in-depth, provocative interviews with the world’s greatest celebrities and icons,” their announcement promises, “such as Tina Fey, Francis Ford Coppola, Howard Stern, Fidel Castro and Robert DeNiro.” They’ve even created special “covers” for the ebook editions — both front and back — featuring their photos of the celebrities, and some especially intriguing quotes. (For Jimmy Carter, the quote was “I’m a human being. I’m not a package you can put in a box….”)

Browse the available interviews each day at