Considered one of the best writers of the 20th century, Salinger stopped having his worked published and became a famous recluse who lived in a small, remote house in Cornish, N.H., refused to accept fan mail, and fought legal battles to keep his works, and sequels, from being published.
One of Salinger's lawsuits made it all the way to the Supreme Court, which ruled in his favor and refused to allow publication of an unauthorized biography by Ian Hamilton, which quoted from the author's unpublished letters. Salinger had copyrighted his letters.
In 2009, Salinger sued to halt publication of John David California's "60 Years Later," an unauthorized sequel to "Catcher" that imagined Holden in his 70s, misanthropic as ever.
Salinger reportedly kept 15 finished unpublished manuscripts locked up in a safe. During his lifetime, Salinger turned down offers to put his books on film or on stage by such luminaries Billy Wilder, Elia Kazan, Steven Spielberg and Harvey Weinstein.
The author's wall of secrecy was pierced in 1998 when his former lover, Joyce Maynard, published "At Home in the World," her account of their 10-month affair in the 1970s, when she was a young woman and he was in middle age. She described him as an eccentric, controlling personality. To what must have been Salinger's horror, she also described their sex life.
In 2000, Salinger's daughter Margaret Salinger wrote a scathing book entitled "Dreamcatcher" about her father.
The sale of Salinger's books were expected to accelerate with the announcement of his death.
"J.D. Salinger was one of the great figures of postwar American literature, and we do expect there will be a lot of customer interest in Salinger's books, as there were in John Updike's books, especially his Rabbit series, after his death a year ago," said Tom Nissley, senior editor at Amazon.com books.
"We expect people will also be turning to his lesser-known, but still beloved, books like 'Nine Stories' and 'Franny and Zooey' as well, once the news spreads," Nissley said.
Bob Contant, co-owner of St. Marks Bookshop in Manhattan, also expected a surge in Salinger sales.
"He's such an icon. We have always sold him exceedingly well," Contant said. "Every high school kid has to read J.D. Salinger. So many kids have to read him."
Conor Moran, a manager at the popular bookstore Politics and Prose in Washington, D.C., marveled at Salinger's continuing popularity.
"We're still putting it into people's hands 60 years later," Moran told ABC News. "[He] still resonates with readers from all walks of life, people who read it for the first time in the 1950's and high school students reading it for class…[We] continue selling it and creating more and more fans out of the few works that he had for us."
Hanna Siegel, Bradley Blackburn and the Associated Press contributed to this report.