Publishers face surge of e-books

The UK book industry needs to prepare for a surge of ‘Stephen King’ style e-book formats.

The UK book publishing industry is bracing itself for the Stephen King treatment.

The first in a new series of five short stories written by best-selling author Frederick Forsyth is being released exclusively on the Internet this week, in a range of e-book formats.

“The Veteran”, described as “a chilling tale of a violent crime committed in London”, is part one of a series collectively entitled “Quintet”. Stamped with the classic Forsyth hallmark of page-turning suspense and surprise, “The Veteran” is available to purchase online for &£1.99 or $2.99 in the US.

Forsyth’s e-book debut comes close on the heels of horror author Stephen King, who recently began self-publishing his latest work from his own website (www.stephen-king.com) and charging a dollar for each downloaded instalment.

Forsyth describes himself as “a techno-peasant at heart, but I like the idea that for just the price of a sandwich anyone, anywhere could sit down and read a story that I might have only just completed.”

The Internet, he argues, offers authors and their readers “a new diversity of opportunities and freedom. It’s exciting to be going down this road and I suspect that others will follow suit.”

Online Originals (www.onlineoriginals.com) won the rights to publish the series in a deal brokered by literary agent Ed Victor. Online Originals will be publishing the 20,000-word work in a number of different e-book formats, including Microsoft Reader, Glassbook and PDF.

It claims to have signed deals with all the key e-book retailers worldwide, including Barnes & Noble (www.bn.com), BOL (www.bol.com), WH Smith (www.whsmith.co.uk), and Streets Online (www.alphabetstreet.co.uk).

For payment security and to prevent illegal copyright infringements, Online Originals has arranged for the downloads to be encrypted with software from Lightning Source and Authorit-e, a service provided by Barclays Merchant Services.

Online Originals, headed by Phil Rance, has also signed an agreement with eSubstance, an Internet content provider, to distribute syndicated versions of the eBook through a number of corporate websites later in the month.

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