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.