J.D. Salinger’s classic novel Catcher in the Rye will be published as an ebook for the first time this week, according to The New York Times. The profile details the late author and his estate’s reluctance to follow the rest of the publishing industry online.
The Times reports that Little, Brown and Company will publish the novel, as well as three other novels, Franny and Zooey, Nine Stories, and Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour—An Introduction as ebooks this week. The move is part of a broader reveal of Salinger’s body of work, which will include an exhibition by the the New York Public Library later this year, which will display a selection of the author’s letters, photographs, and other items.
Salinger famously became reclusive after the release of Catcher in the Rye in 1951, and he eventually stopped publishing in 1965. However, he continued to write up until his death in 2010, leaving behind a vast archive of unpublished work, none of which has been seen publicly.
Those works have been a closely-guarded secret, protected by his literary trust and son, Matt Salinger, who has been going through his father’s archives. Earlier this year, the family revealed that those unseen works will be eventually published.
Salinger tells the Times that the trust has kept a firm grip on his father’s works and legacy, refusing attempts to adapt or license them, keeping with his desire for privacy. Salinger also noted that his father detested the internet, noting that he was “horrified” when his son described Facebook to him. Because of that attitude, the trust put off requests for digital editions, and was only swayed recently when a reader wrote to Salinger to say that her disability made it difficult to read physical books.
While the books will be published digitally this week, they won’t be accompanied by an audio edition — Salinger “abhorred the idea of his books being performed or interpreted in any way in another medium,” according to his son.
The report also highlights another reason for why it’s taken nearly a decade for Salinger to go through his father’s works: he hasn’t been able to use any handwriting recognition software to convert his father’s handwritten work into digital files, forcing him to type up every word himself.