Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Stephen King prevented a Maine newspaper from axing its freelance book reviewers

Just because Stephen King’s vision of Maine is monster-laden and riddled with death doesn’t mean he doesn’t love the place. The author was born there and remains there to this day, pumping money into local charities and repping for its budding authors. That’s why King didn’t hesitate to call out Maine’s Portland Press Herald when, on Friday, the paper revealed it would no longer publish freelance reviews of Maine-centric books by local writers.

It’s all about money and a shrinking income for newspapers. They want to go wire service reviews only, so Maine writers won’t get a boost,” King tweeted out. “Many of them depend on those reviews to buy bread and milk.”


The Herald, knowing that King’s attention, positive or negative, is a boon, decided to weaponize it. “If you can get 100 of your followers to buy digital subscriptions to the @PressHerald,” they challenged, “we will reinstate the local book reviews immediately.”

King was happy to oblige, smirkingly calling the Herald’s request “blackmail.” And, thanks to his following of more than five million, the Herald raked in roughly 200 new subscriptions in less than 48 hours. “It’s a Stephen King story with a happy ending,” Lisa DeSisto, chief executive of MaineToday Media, which publishes the Herald, told the New York Times.

Per the paper, freelance reviews will begin running again next week.

“You saved the day,” King told his followers on Monday. “There are countries where the arts are considered vital. Too bad this isn’t one of them.”


(The Herald, by the way, says they didn’t spell his name wrong.)


Share This Story

Get our newsletter

About the author

Randall Colburn

Randall Colburn is The A.V. Club's Internet Culture Editor. He lives in Chicago, occasionally writes plays, and was a talking head in Best Worst Movie, the documentary about Troll 2.