Harper Lee’s heirs say “fuck you, pay me”

Her body’s hardly even in the ground.  We already had that laughable “found sequel/prequel” that came out last year, the one that critics and literary scholars aren’t really sure was even actually written by Lee, and now this.  The short version?  Easy enough; the paperback version that carried a sub-ten-dollar MSRP tag has been discontinued by the Lee estate.  That is, they won’t allow the less expensive product to be printed and offered for sale.  What is left?  Why the hardback and ‘trade paperback’ versions, which start at least six or seven dollars higher (over twenty-five dollars more for the hardback).


Don’t like it?  Fuck you, pay me.  But it’s a literary classic!  Fuck you, pay me.  But something like seventy-five percent of the English programs in the United States assign the book as part of their curriculum.  Fuck you, pay me.

Gosh Dave, isn’t that kind of vulgar?  No more so than this move.  It’s a money grab, pure and simple.  And not even one that has the slightest shred of civility to it, lacking any sort of possible explanation other than “fuck you, pay me.”

To Kill a Mockingbird was published in 1960.  That was 56 years ago.  And under current copyright laws in the United States, thanks to Disney and other large corporations, the Lee estate now controls the book that has become a part of the common-but-not-public culture of the country until … gee whiz, 2111.  The twenty-fucking-second century.  And they don’t even have the decency to allow $9 copies roll off the printers anymore.

The book has paid for its self scores (and scores and scores, and scores of scores of scores) of times over. Even a $9 copy is so juicy with such pure profitable cream that it’s a little disgusting.  The $35-40 dollar hardbacks, even allowing for the greater production costs of a hardback, definitely moreso.  And yet Hachette and HarperCollins and Lee have been cheerfully selling millions (and millions and millions) of copies of TKAM since the early 60s.  Every one dripping with cream that goes straight into their pockets.

Lee literally retired off this one work; it’s more or less the Holy Grail of a creator.  To produce that one work that’s both popular and profitable, enough that it removes all the race out of the rat-race.  Unfortunately Lee never really accomplished any other great heights, but she’s still in very good company for the ages.  She not only found fame and fortune, she found respect; she found widespread respect with the work for more than just its popular appeal or fiscal benefits.  She found the American literary establishment had eagerly pulled a chair out for her to sit next to the other greats of English literature; right there next to Shakespeare and Twain.

Unless her heirs tarnish her legacy.  Which is exactly what this does.

Sickening.  She died on 19 Feb.  She’s literally been buried less than a month and already the kids and grandkids and whoever else who’s managed to write themselves into the will are grabbing for the cash.

The word is greed.  Pure, unadulterated, inexcusable greed.  The kind that’s going to run the horse right into the ground with broken legs and a shattered spine.

Fuck you, pay me.