Penguin has Salinger backlist relaunch planned for June
01.02.10 | Victoria Gallagher

Penguin imprint Hamish Hamilton will be relaunching JD Salinger’s backlist in June with new covers approved by Salinger himself. The rejacketing was planned before the reclusive author died on Wednesday at his home at the age of 91.

Simon Prosser, publishing director of Hamish Hamilton & Penguin, said that the publisher was “mourning deeply the loss of one of our very favourite authors – and one of the greatest writers of the last century.” Prosser added that although no one in the office had ever met him, “his presence was very strongly felt”.

Hamish Hamilton has been plotting a relaunch of its Salinger list for several months and the jackets had already been approved by the author.

Prosser added: “I am certain that JD Salinger’s passing will be keenly felt by many. The Catcher in the Rye must surely be close to the top of the list of favourite books of millions of readers — as it is of ours; and his other works will not be far behind — and for some, of course, ahead. He was the bestselling Hamish Hamilton author ever and we owe him an enormous debt.”

Salinger’s 2009 sales were £380,327 on 55,962 copies from Nielsen BookScan’s Total Consumer Market. Since records began in 2001 sales for Salinger are £4.5m on just over 668,000 copies.

Pomona Press has also bought the publication date of its biography on Salinger forward after his death. JD Salinger: A Life Raised High by Kenneth Slawenski will now be published on 15th March.

Pomona’s owner Mark Hodkinson said: “It is a coincidence that we are publishing the book so close to Salinger’s death. The book was scheduled to be published in May but we have brought it forward a few weeks and the author is adding a new chapter.” Hodkinson added: “It is a comprehensive and brave piece of work and Slawenski’s love of Salinger’s writing sings out on every page.”

Little has previously been known about Salinger but Slawenski has conducted more than 60 interviews and trawled libraries for letters, birth certificates, marriage licences and work records to provide a “detailed but highly readable account” of the author.

Announcing his death yesterday (28th January) his literary agent Harold Ober Associates asked for the privacy closely guarded by the author to be extended to his family “collectively, during this time”.

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