Ray Bradbury Discovers The Internet Is Real After All; Publishers Force Him To Offer Ridiculously Overpriced Ebooks

from the does-it-burn? dept

It's pretty firmly established that acclaimed author Ray Bradbury is a bit of a technological curmudgeon (understatement alert). Way back in 2001 we wrote about an interview where he bitched about the internet, and how it was really a big scam perpetrated by the computer companies. Video games? Those are "male ego crap." In 2009, he expanded on his complaints, talking about how "the internet is a big distraction" and "it's meaningless; it's not real. It's in the air somewhere." Not surprisingly, he has absolutely and steadfastly refused to allow his classic work Fahrenheit 451 to be published as an ebook... until now.

A bunch of press reports are noting that Bradbury has finally joined the latest millennium by allowing an ebook of Fahrenheit 451... but the details suggest that this wasn't a choice he made willingly. Basically, his contracts were up, and no publisher would take him on without ebooks:
Bradbury's agent, Michael Congdon, said Tuesday that rights for Bradbury's book were expiring and that the growing digital market, estimated at 20 percent or higher of overall sales, made a deal for e-books inevitable....

"We explained the situation to him (Bradbury) that a new contract wouldn't be possible without e-book rights," said Congdon, who added that six publishers had been interested. "He understood and gave us the right to go ahead."
Of course, if Bradbury is worried that people are going to leave behind his precious paper (more on that in a minute), perhaps his publishers are saving him... by pricing the ebook at a ridiculous $9.99. This is for a book that you can buy in a paper copy used for a penny and new for $2.84. And the publisher thinks $9.99 for a version that doesn't require materials, packaging or shipping should be many times the cost?
Of course, some people like to point out that Bradbury's hatred of ebooks is kind of ironic, given that they believe Fahrenheit 451 is about censorship and book burning. But it's not. As we've noted in the past, Bradbury has long maintained that the book had nothing whatsoever to do with censorship, but was about the dangers of new media, specifically television, to entertain people in a way that made them no longer care about physical books. To Bradbury, it seems, the physical book is everything.

Either way, it appears that Bradbury, despite his visionary nature, simply can't get past the idea of a flashy screen, and still fails to realize that his fears were totally unfounded, and digital technologies mean that more people read today than in the past. But, who knows how many will read his ebooks at that ridiculous price.

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Nov 2011 @ 5:35pm

    Re: Re:

    No, their current business model is to sell stacks of paper with words printed on them or plastic discs with music or movies on them.

    Their business (purpose?) is to make money in a way related to providing entertainment and information to people who want it.

    Seems to be exactly what I said. If they actually saw their businesses that way, they would have a much better financial outlook than they seem to have at this point.

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