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Even as Walmart, Amazon and Target continue their slash-and-burn pricing of new hardbacks -- dropping as low as $8.99 -- Stephen King is providing an odd counterattack. Scribner, which is publishing his latest, "Under the Dome," said Wednesday that the digital edition would be released a month after the hardcover and would have the same list price: $35.

So let me get this straight: I can spend a couple hundred bucks for a Kindle, nook or other e-reader, for the privilege of buying a digital book later, and at a higher price? It's obvious that publishers have been driven mad by the onset of e-books and the price war by big-box retailers.

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The pricing move can be seen as a break for independent bookstores, which will be hurt by the price wars of mega-retailers. (In letters to Shelf Awareness, some indies have wondered out loud why they would buy boxes of books from publishers when they can get the few they need at a lower price from Walmart.) But if publishers think they can artificially prop up prices for e-books, I'm afraid they're mistaken. The e-book genie is out of the bottle, and double-digit pricing -- let alone $35 -- is likely to have all the staying power of a dream.

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