July 23, 2014
First J.D. Salinger ebook is out, from an indie publisher
by Nick Davies
In a move that might have dismayed the late J.D. Salinger, independent press the Deavault-Graves Agency has released a newly compiled book of stories by the author. Clare Swanson writes for Publishers Weekly that this is the first “permissible” Salinger book to be published in the past fifty years, and the first time his writing has been legally available as an ebook and audiobook.
Salinger was notoriously protective of his copyright, as Swanson notes, while he was alive. He slammed an unauthorized collection of his stories as “illicit” and “unfair” in the New York Times in 1974, and expressly forbade any adaptation of his writing, which his agents have enforced since his death a few years ago by preventing any digital editions of his books.
Co-founder of Devault-Graves Tom Graves admits that Salinger probably would not have been pleased with the publication of the book, Three Stories. He tells PW, “The old man himself may not have liked what we’ve done. But we have done our best to respect his legacy and present a handsome product that would not have embarrassed him,” adding that “no good book deserves to fall into obscurity.”
That said, he and partner Darrin Devault knew that they couldn’t risk running afoul of the Salinger Trust, and so launched an exhaustive search into the rights to 21 stories written before Catcher in the Rye was published in 1951. There were three which hadn’t ever been registered to Salinger, and those became the new book, with illustrations by Brooklyn artist Anna Rose Yoken.
The stories that comprise the text have been published previously: “The Young Folks” and “Go See Eddie,” his first two published stories, ran in Story magazine and the University of Kansas City Review, and “Once a Week Won’t Kill You” ran in Story as well. The physical book will be distributed by Ingram, with digital distribution by Bookbaby and the audiobook — already selling well, per Graves — available via Audible.
Nick Davies was a publicist at Melville House.