Six months after J.D. Salinger’s estate revealed plans to release some of the author’s unpublished work, the estate is now also readying to bring Salinger’s classic stories to digital libraries for the first time.
The New York Times reports that four of Salinger’s greatest published works – The Catcher in the Rye, Nine Stories, Franny and Zooey and Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour—An Introduction – will receive digital editions on Tuesday. Salinger’s works were considered literature’s biggest e-book holdout.
“This is the last chip to fall in terms of the classic works,” Terry Adams of digital and paperback publisher of Little, Brown told the New York Times. “All of the other estates of major 20th century writers have made the move to e-books, but [J.D. Salinger’s son] Matt has been very cautious.”
It wasn’t until recent years that Matt Salinger considered digitizing his reclusive father’s legendary work: First, he received a letter from a woman who said she had a disability that made reading printed books difficult. Then, on a trip to China, Matt Salinger witnessed how the country’s young people – The Catcher in the Rye‘s target demographic – almost exclusively read on digital devices.
Matt Salinger acknowledged that his father likely would have remained a holdout of the digital revolution. “I hear his voice really clearly in my head, and there’s no doubt in my mind about 96 percent of the decisions I have to make, because I know what he would have wanted,” Matt Salinger told the New York Times. “Things like e-books and audiobooks are tough, because he clearly didn’t want them.” However, Matt added of his father, “He wouldn’t want people to not be able to read his stuff.”
He also told the Associated Press, “There were few things my father loved more than the full tactile experience of reading a printed book, but he may have loved his readers more — and not just the ‘ideal private reader’ he wrote about, but all his readers.”
In February, Matt Salinger said unpublished works by the author “will at some point be shared.” He also tempered expectations for the unreleased work, saying the eventual publication “will definitely disappoint people that he wouldn’t care about, but for real readers … I think it will be tremendously well received by those people and they will be affected in the way every reader hopes to be affected when they open a book.”