June 13, 2012

E-book holdout Thomas Pynchon agrees to digitize his backlist


Reclusive novelist Thomas Pynchon

The New York Times’ Media Decoder blog is reporting that after refusing to get on the digital bandwagon for years, novelist Thomas Pynchon has struck a deal with his publisher, Penguin Press, to release his backlist as e-books. All eight of his books, including the novels V. and Gravity’s Rainbow, and the short story collection Slow Learner, are available as of this Wednesday, now that Pynchon has changed has mind after a long-standing refusal to sell his titles digitally. Penguin Press president and editor-in-chief Ann Godoff explains Pynchon’s change of heart as an acceptance that many people are only reading digitally these days and would otherwise miss out on his work:

There has been a great desire to have all of Tom’s books in digital format now, for many years. He didn’t want to not be part of that. I think he wants to have more readers. Every writer wants to have as many readers as they can possibly get. But I don’t think this will change his public profile, in terms of him being out there in public. In fact, I know it won’t.

One of the last holdouts against e-publishing, Pynchon is not the only prominent author to acquiesce lately. Several other well-known authors who initially resisted the new technology have also gotten on board. Ray Bradbury, the great science fiction writer who passed away last week, had once said that e-books “smell like burned fuel,” but eventually allowed his classic Fahrenheit 451 to be published as an e-book last November; J.K. Rowling only released her Harry Potter series as e-books earlier this year.

Penguin has created a trailer for Pynchon’s work, available here on Vimeo.


Nick Davies is a publicist at Melville House.