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One More Digital Hold Out Has Fallen – Fahrenheit 451 Now Available as an Ebook

November 30th, 2011 by · 7 Comments · publishing news

Simon and Schuster has announced that Ray Bradbury’s seminal Fahrenheit 451 is now available as an ebook.You can find it in most ebookstores, including the Kindle Store, for the princely sum of $9.99. Yikes.

Like JK Rowling, Ray Bradbury has been a longtime holdout against ebooks. In the past he has expressed repeated disdain for digital content, ebooks, and the internet in general. This move comes as a complete surprise to all. But it shouldn’t.

There’s a simple reason why he caved on ebooks: money. Several of his book contracts were coming up for renewal, and no publisher wanted to touch them. You see, they knew he wouldn’t allow ebooks. Bradbury’s agent, Michael Congdon, said Tuesday that “We explained the situation to him (Bradbury) that a new contract wouldn’t be possible without e-book rights. He understood and gave us the right to go ahead.” ¬†Given that ebooks are 15% or more of the US market, refusing to allow ebooks is something akin to not letting a book be sold in California. It’s crazy.

Of course, Mr. Bradbury is still going to have the last laugh in the long run. He wanted to block ebooks and he’s more or less going to get his way. All his ebooks will be encumbered by DRM and sold at a premium price.¬† This will have a combined effect of limiting sales while encouraging piracy. So he will get what he wanted. Few will buy the legit ebook; instead it will continue to be pirated.

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7 Comments so far ↓

  • fjtorres

    eBooks, as a whole, may be 15-20% of the US market, but that is the *entire* market. Narrative text is higher and SF in particular is way higher. 30-40% is more likely that 15 and even 50% is far from impossible.
    More, Bradbury is strictly a back-catalog play these days.
    And back catalog is, again, an ebook play.
    Basically, his catalog was the next thing to worthless without ebook rights.

  • Amelia St. John

    I find it ironic that a sci-fi writer was such as Bradbury was a hold out against ebooks.

    • fjtorres

      Baby duck syndrome. ;-)
      We’re all susceptible but some imprint really really strongly.
      (Notice how all political and economic discourse in the US *always* baselines the 60′s? As if time began in 1946, peaked in 68, and has been frozen ever since.) :-D

  • Dan

    “First they came for the Socialists and I did not speak out because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak for me.”

    Seriously? Using a verse talking about the murderous Nazis in comparison to e-books? Shame on you.

  • Kori

    I had to see this $9,99 price with my own eyes and clicked on the link above. Seem like the price on Amazon of $9,99 was either a typo, or a joke because it’s $9.99 today.

    $9,99 … That’s not even a valid number.

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