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King fans ponying up extra cash to cover freeloading e-readers

SHARE King fans ponying up extra cash to cover freeloading e-readers

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Stephen King fans frightened about being cut off from the author's online serial novel, "The Plant," have been sending extra cash to cover for freeloaders.

Amazon.com, which is processing the payments for King, says some readers have been ponying up extra money — in $2, $10 and even $20 — to make up for less honorable readers who downloaded the files without paying.

Amazon didn't provide exact numbers, but Alan Caplan, a general manager with Amazon.com, said that "a bunch" of readers were making the extra payments.

"It's just amazing the loyalty that he has from his fans," Caplan said.

As it is, some 76 percent of readers are volunteering to pay the $1 King is asking for each copy — just above the amount King says he wants for the project to continue — so the project appears set to continue for now.

The second installment of "The Plant" became available on Monday, following the release of the first chapter on July 24. Part three has already been finished and will likely go up in late September, if the honor system for payments keeps up, according to King's assistant, Marsha DeFilippo.

King admits on his site that he did not expect success with his latest Internet experiment. "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," he says on his site.

Now he is faced with the real possibility of having to finish "The Plant" and is reconsidering his installment method.

King thinks interest in "The Plant" installments would fade over time. So he is considering making some future installments longer, possibly as long as 35,000 words compared with 5,000 words for the first installment. The longer installments may be more expensive, about $2.50 a pop. He is asking readers what they think.

He also is thinking about offering a bonus to faithful readers.

"What Stephen's hoping to do, if it goes through all the way, is give away the last installment," DeFilippo said.