Author Stephen King – and his readers – have persuaded his local newspaper to reverse a decision to axe its book reviews.
The Portland Press Herald, based in his home state of Maine, had decided to stop running reviews of local books.
After King expressed dismay, the paper challenged him to get 100 followers to buy digital subscriptions.
His fans did not disappoint him, prompting the paper to pledge that “book reviews will return”.
The ball began rolling on Friday when King tweeted that the Portland Press Herald and its Sunday sister paper the Maine Sunday Telegram would “no longer publish local, freelance-written reviews of books about Maine, set in Maine, or written by Maine authors”.
The author wrote: “Retweet this if you’re from Maine (or even if you’re not). Tell the paper DON’T DO THIS.”
The Portland Press Herald replied by saying newspapers were facing “challenging times”, but promised to “reinstate the local book reviews immediately” if enough digital subscriptions were taken out.
By the time King passed on the proposition to his Twitter followers, the 100 subscription target had already been met.
The 71-year-old gave thanks to his fans for “saving the day” – but expressed disappointment that the arts aren’t considered “vital” in the US.
The author of Carrie, It and many other best-sellers said papers like the Herald were increasingly relying on syndicated reviews.
“They want to go wire service reviews only, so Maine writers won’t get a boost,” he told one of his followers. “Many of them depend on those reviews to buy bread and milk.”
His principled stand led many to applaud him. “Thank you, @StephenKing, for showing local newspapers that book reviews are a vital part of news coverage,” wrote the New York Times’ Pamela Paul.