Stephen King steps in to save Maine paper’s book reviews

NEW YORK (AFP) – When Stephen King’s local newspaper announced it would cut regional book reviews, the horror author swooped in – and managed to save the section with just a few tweets.

The story began last Friday, when King shared that The Portland Press Herald, a prominent newspaper in his home state of Maine, would no longer publish locally-written reviews of books set in the northeasternmost US state.

“Tell the paper DON’T DO THIS,” tweeted the 71-year-old author, a master of horror and fantasy known for such novels as Carrie and The Shining.

“Many of (the writers) depend on those reviews to buy bread and milk,” he added.

More than 8,000 fans retweeted the message.

In response, the paper challenged King to help raise the funds needed to pay for the reviews – which cost “thousands” of “freelance dollars,” according to executive editor Cliff Schechtman.

“If you can get 100 of your followers to buy digital subscriptions to the @PressHerald, we will reinstate the local book reviews immediately,” tweeted the newspaper, which employs some 70 journalists but has fewer than 10,000 subscribers.

By Monday, that goal had been met: Schechtman told AFP almost 250 people had signed up, paying USD15 for 12 weeks.

“Thanks to everybody who subscribed to the Press-Herald. You saved the day. There are countries where the arts are considered vital. Too bad this isn’t one of them,” said King.