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A novel first published in 1953 helped Simon & Schuster US increase sales by $1m to $207m in the second quarter ended 30 June 2018 over the same period in 2017, according to parent company CBS. Ray Bradbury’s classic science fiction novel Farenheit 451 has been performing well, the publisher said, thanks to the HBO film released in May.
Observers point out that the novel’s themes of censorship have echoes with the present administration in the White House. The American Booksellers for Free Expression recently sent a letter to White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders concerning reports that the White House had barred CNN reporter Kaitlan Collins from covering a press event on July 25.
Bradbury’s novel is set in a dystopian future in which individualism is not allowed and intellectuals are outlaws. Books are banned – and burned – because reading encourages thinking. Farenheit 451 is famously the temperature at which paper ignites. To promote the movie, HBO tweeted: ‘Fact. Fiction. It all burns’.
S&S CEO Carolyn Reidy said that sales in the adult group were up and highlighted Stephen King’s The Outsider, John McCain and Mark Salter’s The Restless Wave and Spymaster by Brad Thor, alongside Bradbury, for particular mention. She noted that rising costs of paper and transportation posed a challenge, one that it had met by selective price increases.
Looking ahead, the publisher is expecting much interest in FEAR: Trump in the White House by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Bob Woodward, which it publishes in September. Jonathan Karp, president and publisher of S&S describes it as “the most acute and penetrating portrait of a sitting president ever published during the first years of an administration”.