An electronic book
written by bestselling author Stephen King
while he was recovering from being hit by a van. Riding the Bullet
is a novella-length story, a length for which it is difficult to find a home in modern publishing. Hence, King decided to release it as an e-book
priced at $2.50 to gain publicity and more money.
And it worked; King has stated he expects to take in more than $450,000 for this one story (that would otherwise have netted him $10,000 at most), and it has caused much conversation about electronic books in the world of publishing--partly due to Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble giving it away for free for several days. However, it was primarily a publicity stunt in much the same way as The Green Mile's original serialized publication, and it is doubtful King will give much thought to releasing any large portion of his future works in this way.
Though it was released as an encrypted Postscript file, Riding the Bullet was soon cracked and made available in ASCII plaintext via USENET and Gnutella. The client necessary for reading the encrypted file was available for Windows PCs only (meaning, ironically, that King (who uses a Macintosh) was incapable of reading his own e-book), and caused many of them to crash upon installation or reading. The book is also available for the Palm Pilot, Visor, and Windows CE through e-book publisher Peanut Press.
Though it generated a great deal of publicity, Riding the Bullet has done very little to change the legitimacy or feasibility of the e-book format, save perhaps in the perception of the average reader. Whether it will eventually be published as part of a print anthology remains to be seen.