This is a hoot. After the Portland Press Herald made it known that it would drop freelance-written reviews of local books as a cost-saving measure, Maine’s favorite author, Stephen King, lodged a protest on Twitter and urged his followers to do the same.
The Press Herald responded that if King could persuade at least 100 people to buy digital subscriptions, they would restore the reviews to the Sunday edition, known as the Maine Sunday Telegram:
It worked, and the book reviews will return next Sunday. “It’s a Stephen King story with a happy ending,” publisher Lisa DeSisto told The New York Times. (I worked with DeSisto at The Boston Phoenix many years ago, and she makes a cameo in “The Return of the Moguls.”)
Let me pour just a small amount of lukewarm water on all this. First, cutting local book reviews without consulting readers makes as little sense as, oh, slashing the Sunday funnies. Second, I hope this doesn’t become a habit. Hey, let’s tell everyone we’re going to stop covering restaurants unless we can sell 1,000 more subscriptions.
Still, this is a great story. I’m glad King’s influence did the trick.
Clarification: There was no public announcement that the Press Herald was planning to drop local reviews, but freelance contributors were made aware of it. I’ve rewritten the top to reflect that.
Monday update: Publishers Weekly has an especially detailed account of what went down. Also, King’s gambit did not save jobs elsewhere at the Press Herald: