Bradbury, e-book foe, permits a digital 'Fahrenheit 451'

Posted: November 30, 2011

At age 91, Ray Bradbury is making peace with the future he helped predict.

The science fiction/fantasy author and longtime enemy of the e-book has finally allowed his dystopian classic Fahrenheit 451 to be published in digital format. Simon & Schuster released the electronic edition Tuesday at a list price of $9.99.

First published in paperback by Ballantine in 1953 and as a hardcover by Simon & Schuster in the 1960s, Fahrenheit 451 has sold more than 10 million copies and has been translated into 33 languages. It imagined a world in which the appetite for new and faster media leads to a decline in reading, and books are banned and burned.

Bradbury has been a defender of traditional paper texts, saying that e-books "smell like burned fuel" and calling the Internet nothing but "a big distraction."

His agent, Michael Congdon, said rights for Bradbury's book were expiring and that the growing digital market, estimated at 20 percent or more of overall sales, made a deal for e-books inevitable. Congdon told Bradbury "a new contract wouldn't be possible without e-book rights."

Neither Congdon nor Simon & Schuster offered financial details, but publishing officials with knowledge of the deal said it was worth seven figures.

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