.. du site

 

The Plant

 

Couverture web de la première partie Zenith Rising

(les 6 épisodes)

Février 2001 :

LES COMPTES.

King affirme affirme avoir gagné un peu moins d'un demi-million de $ en publiant The Plant par épisodes (3,5 millions de FF). Soit : recettes 721.448 $; gestion du site : 257.616 $; bénéfice : 463.832 $. La publication du livre a donc été rentable, encore qu'un nombre de plus en plus important de lecteurs ne payaient plus. Il ne reste plus qyu'a à attendre le septième épisode...

Mon interprétation.

Lors de son accident de juin 1999, les messages de sympathie ont afflué par dizaines de milliers, plusieurs dizaines de fans se présentaient chaque jour pour offrir leur sang à Steve...

King a été impressionné par ces preuves concrètes de sympathie, voire d'affection.

King avait pris goût au bain de foule virtuel. Bien sûr, ses chiffres de vente confortaient l'enfant pauvre, l'écrivain minable de ses débuts, et l'assuraient de sa place triomphale en tant qu'écrivain. Avec les preuves de la sollicitude de ses fans, c'était l'enfant binoclard, gros, lourd, maladroit, rejeté qui jouissait du fait qu'on l'aimait personnellement. Comment retrouver cette ivresse? Le succès spectaculaire en mars 2000 du premier e-book de Stephen King, Riding the bullet, qu'on pouvait charger contre paiement à l'éditeur Simon et Schuster, conciliait les deux : la preuve affective directe et la démonstration financière. King prit goût à la chose et continua l'expérience avec son roman inachevé, The Plant. Tout bon calviniste vous dira que si les démonstrations affectives sont agréables, le grâce divine ne se mesure vraiment qu'à la réussite matérielle. Il fallait cette fois payer directement l'auteur. Hélas! de mois en mois les paiements diminuèrent. Six mois après, descendu de son nuage, King jette l'éponge. Pour chasser sa morosité, King s'éclate maintenant en projets, dont la liste est impressionnante.

Janvier 2000.

King met fin à la publication de The Plant.

Décembre 2000.

La sixième livraison du roman épistolaire de Stephen King est maintenant disponible en ligne gratuirement sur le site officiel de l'auteur http://www.stephenking.com avec la couverture de cette première partie de 6 épisodes. La suite est reportée à plus tard. La preemière partie complète (1 à 6) est téléchargeable moyennanrt 7 $.

Qu'en penser?

Riding the bullet, payant (2$50), avait été téléchargé 400.000 fois illégalement après la publication sur le net de la man¤uvre qui permettait de l'obtenir gratuitement. En juillet 2000, la mise sur site de The Plant fut donc la seconde expérience de l'année. King proposait l'¤uvre aux lecteurs par épisodes, sans une protecion électronique qui aurait été inévitablement tournée. Les lecteurs étaient donc invités à lui verser spontanément un $ par chapitre téléchargé. Le premier chapitre fut téléchargé par 152.000 lecteurs, dont 76% payèrent. À partir du quatrième chapitre, deux $ furent demandés.

Le deuxième épisode ne respectait déjà plus la règle fixée par King, selon laquelle il ne continuerait à publier que si les 3/4 des lecteurs s'acquittaient de leur contribution. Or le % des payants était tombé à 46 avec ce quatrième épisode.

Contrairement à ce que les médias ont raconté, ce n'est pas pour cette raison cependant que King a annoncé la publication par chapitres de The Plant. Sa décision était intervenue avant qu'il n'ait eu connaissance de ce dernier chiffre de 46%. King a pris du retard dans la rédaction de Black House (la suite du Talisman, écrite en collaboration avec Peter Straub) et de ses deux autres romans Dreamcatcher et From a Buick 8.

La rédaction de The Plant peut attendre, selon King : "L'histoire était restée en sommeil pendant 19 ans. Si elle a survécu à cela, je suis sûr qu'elle peut attendre un an ou deux de plus pendant que je travaille sur d'autres projets", se justifie l'auteur.

Mais il promet de ne pas tout abandonner à l'issue de ce sixième épisode qui devrait apporter un certain nombre de réponses et régler leur compte à certains des personnages. Pour conclure, King rappelle que la dernière fois qu'il a fait une pause dans l'écriture de The Plant, ellee a duré 19 ans et qu'un ou deux ans de plus ne sauraient être fatals au projet.

En forme de remerciements et d'excuses, le sixième volet sera offert gratuitement.

Y aura-t-il d'autres expériences, notamment avec un chapitre de transition entre Black House et Le Talisman?

King a publié la première partie de The Plant en 1982, chez Philtrum Press, en tirage limité (200 exemplaires numérotés et signés par l'auteur), pour être distribué gratuitement en cadeau à ses amis à titre de cadeau de Noël, afin de remplacer la traditionnelle carte de voeux. Une deuxième partie de cette histoire a été publiée pour Noël 1983 (26 exemplaires numérotés de A à Z, 200 exemplaires numérotés, tous signés). La troisième partie fut publiée deux ans plus tard, en 1985 (même tirage que pour l'édition 1983)

The Plant est un récit épistolaire (25.000 mots au total) , composé de lettres, de mémos et d'articles, qui se passe dans le monde de l'édition. Un fleuriste, écrivain, présente un manuscrit,qui comprend des photos de ce qui paraît être un sacrifice humain. Surpris par ce manuscrit insolite (intitulé True Tales of Demon Infestations), l'éditeur appelle la police. L'enquête révèle que les photos sont truquées. L'auteur, pour se venger de l'éditeur, lui envoie une mystérieuse plante par courrier, une espèce de vigne vampire qui s'empare de la direction de la maison d'édition, offrant le succès financier en échange de sacrifices humains.

L'histoire ne sera jamais terminée. King a reconnu s'être lassé de son récit quand il trouva son idée exploitée par un film, La petite boutique des horreurs, qui est bâtie sur le motif d'une plante carnivore. L'ensemble inachevé ne fut jamais réédité.

sur

http://www.stephenking.com/download.html

The Plant a été disponible.

à raison d'un épisode par mois

jusqu'en décembre 2000.

Le roman terminé aurait entre 500 et 600 pages..

Les informations données par Stephen King :

18 décembre, 2000

How I Got That Story

The novelist ponders the lessons he's learned from cyberpublishing

 

By Stephen King

 

In July of this year, I began publishing a serial novel at my website, stephenking.com. The idea was one episode a month, pay as you go...and pay by the honor system. My inspiration was the newspaper vendors in New York City during the first half of the century. Many of those hired for the job were blind, because the distribs felt that even slightly dishonest people wouldn't steal from a blind newsboy. My experiment has far from run its course, but the first phase of it concludes later this month, when Part 6 of The Plant--by far the longest--goes up, this time for free.

 

In the modest hoopla that has surrounded the publication of The Plant, very few media analysts bothered to talk about the story itself (possibly because they didn't bother to read it). The Plant happens to be about a voracious supernatural vine that begins to grow wild in a paperback publishing house. It offers success, riches and the always desirable Bigger Market Share. All it wants from you in return is a little flesh...a little blood...and maybe a piece of your soul. What made The Plant such a hilarious Internet natural (at least to my admittedly twisted mind) was that publishers and media people seem to see exactly this sort of monster whenever they contemplate the Net in general and e-lit in particular: a troublesome strangler fig that just might have a bit o' the old profit in it. If, that is, it's handled with gloves.

 

The most dismaying thing I learned in the course of The Plant's run (a run that's not over but only lying dormant until next summer) is that there's a profound crevasse of misunderstanding between the smart guys of the business world and the talented goofballs who make entertainment in this increasingly entertainment-hungry society. Publishers, investors and media watchers see a venture like The Plant and say, "Ah, King is moving into e-commerce!" in the tones of 1940s newscasters relaying the news that Hitler is moving east. King, in the meantime, is thinking something along the lines of, "Hey guys! My uncle's got a barn! Let's put on a show!" It's a goofy thing, in other words. Not a business thing at all. Which, may I add, isn't the same thing as saying there's no money in it. Or cultural clout. Just ask the goofball who thought up Napster.

 

Am I displeased with how things have turned out? Nope. I've had terrific fun working on The Plant, and so far it's grossed about $600,000. It may end up over a million (the figures will be posted on the website early next year, down to the last crying dime). Those aren't huge numbers in today's book market, but The Plant--pay attention, now, because this is the important part--is not a book. Right now it exists as nothing but electronic bits and bytes dancing gaily in cyberspace. Yes, it's been downloaded by hundreds of thousands of people, either in its various parts or in its entirety, and some readers may have printed hard copies (even decorated them like medieval monks illuminating manuscripts, for all I know), but mostly it's just an electronic mirage floating out there all by itself, like Samuel Coleridge's stately pleasure dome, with no printing costs, publisher's cuts or agents' fees to pull it down. Advertising aside (I did some, not much), costs are low to the point of nonexistence, and the profit potential is unlimited.

 

Do Parts 1 through 6 constitute an entire novel? In the sense that there's a beginning, a middle and a resolution, yes. Readers will be as satisfied as they would be with, say, the first volume of a trilogy like Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials (not that I am claiming the same literary quality; never think that). Right now I'm returning to print publishing because I love it and because I have a contract to fulfill--two books remaining.

 

Is there anything about the coverage of Steve's Excellent Adventure that bothers me? Probably the implication that by using the honor system, I was either displaying a naive belief in the honesty of my fellow man or (worse) indulging in a bit of electronic bungee jumping. Neither one. By offering the story in installments and promising to pull the plug if payments fell off, I felt that I had armed myself with a stick to protect my carrot. It worked, too. Part 5 payments fell steeply, but only after I announced the venture was nearing its end. I'm afraid that did bring on a certain amount of looting.

 

The real test of The Plant's marketplace viability may come in late December and January, when Philtrum Press--my publishing company, which has offered books at odd intervals for almost 20 years--will e-market all six parts (The Plant, Book One: The Rise of Zenith) for $7, about the price of a paperback. And for that, my friend, you'll need your credit card.

 

My mamma didn't raise no fools.

King's Letters Regarding The Plant

(From The New York Times, a response to an editorial about the cessation of The Plant...)

 

The Plant: Getting a Little Goofy

 

By Stephen King

 

In a December 1st editorial titled "King's Closure," the New York Times states, "╔one reads Stephen King novels in a single gulp. Their chief effect is suspense of a kind that cannot be drawn out over months." Surely whoever wrote that particular opinion can't have much acquaintance with the Times's own bestseller lists. In 1996 I published a novel called The Green Mile in six installments, and the experiment was a roaring commercial success. At one point, all six chapbooks were on the Times paperback bestseller list at the same time, causing the folks who craft the lists to change their way of listing such endeavors (serial novels are now accorded only a single slot on the Times list, no matter how many installments they may include).

John Saul later published a similar novel in six parts, and enjoyed similar success. Interestly enough, Jackie Collins's foray into the serial novel field was less popular, perhaps because it was not a suspense story. Contrary to what the Times editorial department may think, tales of suspense almost cry out for serialization. They don't call them "cliffhangers" for nothing.

I learned a great many interesting things in the course of The Plant's run on the Internet (a run that's not over, incidentally, but only in hiatus). Perhaps the most dismaying is the profound misunderstanding most business people seem to have concerning how entertainment-which is mostly produced by talented goofballs-interfaces with the business potential they see (or think they see) in the web. One thing seems clear to me: what works on TV, in the movies, and in popular fiction doesn't work in the same way on the Net. A great many business ventures (and not a few fortunes) have already crashed as a result of that erroneous assumption.

Popular entertainments have a place on the Net, but finding the most efficient ways to make them work is a trial and error process. Most people who invest big money in flossy entertainment websites are going to find themselves out of luck, out of dough, and scratching their heads. People who start out just to have fun-to goof around, in other words-are going to find some Napster-sized pots of gold. Profit never comes first, though. What comes first is something like, "Gosh, I've got an idea and my uncle's got a barn-let's put on a show!" There's a lot of available barn space on the Internet, and a lot of people are going to put on shows. I was delighted to be one of the first, and I'm not done yet. Goodness, why would I be? I'm having a hell of a good time.

The Plant will end up grossing at least $600,000, and may end up over a million. These are not huge numbers in today's book market, but The Plant-pay attention, now, because this is the important part-is not a book. Right now it exists as nothing but electronic bits and bytes dancing gaily in cyberspace. Yes, it's been downloaded by a hundred thousand or so people, and some of them have printed hard copies (hand-bound them just like medieval manuscripts, too, for all I know), but mostly it's just an electronic mirage floating out there all by itself like Coleridge's stately pleasure dome, with no printing costs, publisher's cuts, or agents' fees to pull it down. Advertising aside (and finding the correct advertising venues for internet users is a whole other issue), costs are nonexistent and the profit potential is unlimited.

I see three large problems. One is that most Internet users seem to have the attention span of grasshoppers. Another is that Internet users have gotten used to the idea that most of what's available to them on the Net is either free or should be. The third-and biggest-is that book-readers don't regard electronic books as real books. They're like people saying, "I love corn on the cob but creamed corn makes me gag." Since The Plant experiment began in July, I've had dozens of people come up to me and say that they can't wait to read the story╔when it's in book form. They either don't go on the Web, don't go on it for anything but e-mail, or just don't think of reading online, even if what they're reading has been printed out in the privacy of their own homes, as real reading. To them, it's creamed corn. And it makes them gag.

In this last fact, I see a tremendous opportunity. In truth, I don't believe the on-line publication of The Plant has done more than graze whatever potential it might have as a book. The two markets aren't quite apples and oranges, but there is still only a small overlap. In other words, we seem to have discovered an entirely new dimension to the sort of publishing which used to be called "first serial rights." Only instead of generating ten or twenty or perhaps even fifty thousand dollars for pre-publication print rights (in a traditional magazine like Cosmopolitan or Rolling Stone, let us say), we're talking about much bigger numbers.

None of this is a bad thing or a good thing. Neither is any of it a sure-fire thing. Like the more traditional artistic endeavors, it's a goofy thing. A fun thing. Neither the sums generated nor the future of publishing is the point. The point is trying some new things; pushing some new buttons and seeing what happens.

Steve's Comments:

July 25, 2000

 Dear Constant Reader,

 Thanks for your response to The Plant! It's been great! These numbers aren't equal to Riding the Bullet-at least not yet-but our publicity campaign was almost non-existent. New travels fast on the web, however; it's the 21st century version of the jungle telegraph, and the number of downloads seems to be staying hot. Better still, the confirmed rate of payment by credit card is very strong-75% at least. When the dust settles, Marsha and I are hoping-quite reasonably, we think-for a pay-through rate of 85-90%. I should add that a good many non-payers appear to have been not readers but browsers...like people in a bookstore who read a couple of pages and then put the book back on the shelf. We have been deluged with questions from the press about how we are doing. The short answer is that we are doing fine. We are going to give trend figures on July 31st, after this project has been running for a week. We don't anticipate talking to the press again until that time. The reason for this is simple: the people who drive this and are paying their dollars are the people who visit this web site, not the people who necessarily read The New York Times or watch CNN. Good or bad, you deserve the news first, you deserve to read it here, and that's the way it is going to play out. For the time being, just let me reiterate that this experiment seems to be working. I am delighted. Thank you. Tell your friends.

 Peace,

 Steve

Steve's Comments:

July 25, 2000

Here's the truth: When I made a decision to post the first two installments of The Plant, my hopes of success weren't very high. Publicly, I have always expressed a great deal of confidence in human nature, but in private I have wondered if anybody would ever pay for anything on the Net. It now looks as though people will, and I am faced with the real possibility of finishing The Plant. I don't think anyone wants to buy 5,000 word installments over a period of over 20 months, and my experience with The Green Mile makes me think that interest would fade, anyway. Therefore, what I propose doing is this: Episode 2, 6-7,000 words; Episode 3, 10-12,000 words. Download price in both cases would remain $1. Installments 4 through 7 or 8 would be much longer-perhaps as long as 25,000 words-and the download price would go up to $2.50. What do you think about this? Will it work?

 Steve

Au cours de son hospitalisation, King a pu prendre la pleine mesure de l'attachement que lui portaient ses lecteurs, par la quantité considérable de e-mails qui lui ont été envoyés avec leurs voeux de guérison. Il a pris aussi conscience des possibilités de ce nouveau média : l'édition électronique de Riding the bullet en est la conséquence, avec le succès extraordinaire qu'elle a rencontré. Il semble qu'il y aura d'autres initiatives de la part de King dans ce domaine. Cette consultation sur The Plant constitue une tentativepour garder un contact direct avec un lectoratqui ne se chiffre plus en quelques dizaines d'auditeurs choisis, venus écouter une de ses conférences, mais un lectorat populaire qui s'évalue en centaines de milliers. On peut s'interroger sur les conséquences que cette sorte de démocratie particulière à l'américaineaura sur l'écriture des auteurs qui la pratiqueront.

Pour des infos sur les livres de King : http://www.simonsays.com/king

 Historique.

Stephen King a lancé un sondage en juin 2000 pour savoir s'il devait

publier via Internet les épisodes inachevés de The Plant.

D'après King, 152.132 ont téléchargé le premier fragment fin juillet

(en une semaine de présentation),

dont 76% ont payé. La suite est donc prévue.

Présentation du projet :

June 7, 2000

Dear Constant Reader,┼

In the early 1980s, I started an epistolary novel called The Plant. I published limited editions of the first three short volumes, giving them out to friends and relatives (folks who are usually but not always the same) as funky Christmas cards. I gave The Plant up not because I thought it was bad but because other projects intervened. At the time I quit, the work in progress was roughly 25,000 words long. It told the story of a sinister plant-sort of a vampire-vine-that takes over the offices of a paperback publishing company, offering financial success in trade for human sacrifices. The story struck me as both scary and funny. Now it has occurred to me that it might be amusing to put it up on this web-site, in installments of 5000 words each╔something like that, anyway. If this idea interests you, will you e-mail the website and say so? By the same token, if it sounds like a bad idea, will you tell me that?

 I admit that I have another agenda. I was intrigued by the success of "Riding the Bullet" (stunned would probably be a more accurate word), and since then have been anxious to try something similar, but I've also been puzzling over issues of ownership when it comes to creative work. On one hand I applaud Metallica's decision to try and put a few spikes into the big, cushy radial tire that is Napster, because creative people should be paid for their work just as plumbers and carpenters and accountants are paid for theirs. On the other hand, I think that the current technology is rapidly turning the whole idea of copyright into a risky proposition╔not quite a joke, but something close to it. It took hackers only forty-eight to seventy-two hours to bust the encryption on "Bullet" (as Tabitha says, spending invaluable hours to obtain an item that sold for $2.50 and was at many sites given away).

Being something of an optimist about my fellow creatures, I have the idea that most people are honest and will pay for what they get. I'm therefore willing to try selling The Plant on an honor system. Episodes would not be encoded. If you wanted to download the stuff to your printer, you could do that. But you gotta kick a buck; a dollar an episode seems fair enough to me. If it seems fair to you, e-mail the website and say so.

If it seems heavy, say that. My purpose here isn't to skin anybody but to have some fun and try out a concept so old it may seem new; call it "honesty is the best policy."

There's only one small catch. If there are 50,000 downloads, I should get something like $50,000. Of course it won't be that much, because there are always going to be cheaters and chintzes in the world (and for some reason they seem to live longer than the rest of us, God knows why). But I could live with a ratio of nine honest folks for every chiseler. Maybe even eight. But I do think you should be able to print what you read, and pass it on if you choose, the same way you might pass on a book you bought to a friend. You may not sell copies, however.

So tell me what you think, keeping in mind that The Plant is an unfinished work (although I reserve the right to continue the story, and to continue posting further installments, if the feedback is positive) and I can't gaurentee you an ending, either happy or sad. And I reserve the right to cease publication if a lot of people steal the story╔but I just don't believe that will happen. I mean, we're talking a buck a pop here, right?

     Best regards,

Rumeur. D'après Le Monde des Livres du 31/03/2000, King est ravi du succès rencontré par Riding. Il envisagerait de publier sur le web un roman de 700 pages, sous forme de feuilletons mensuels, tout en reconnaissant qu'il lui semble que rien ne remplacera le livre.

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