I can even remember the conversations that started the publishing house where I ended up. A few friends on Compuserve Romance Forum (anyone remember that?) were discussing how much we all loved paranormal, fantasy and science fiction romances, but we couldn’t find them. And those of us writing them couldn’t find places to publish our books. There were a small number trickling out but not nearly enough to satisfy our voracious reading habits. So two of the ladies involved in this discussion decided to open their own publishing company. An ebook company. They called it Dreams Unlimited.
Anyone happen to remember them from way back in the day? They published a Sherrilyn Kenyon book, a Diana Gabaldon novella, Linnea Sinclair’s first book, JC Wilder’s first book, and a few of us other authors, too. They were so far ahead of their time, they published a gay romance meant for a general audience, not just the GLBT audience, and they dabbled in erotic romances, including some of the best ménage stories I’ve ever read.
For physical copies of the books, we used 3.5” floppy disks (try even finding a computer to read those now!).You had no choice but to read the books on a computer or print them up. There were exactly two formats: .PDF and .HTML. Even the technology for a shopping cart wasn’t really there yet, so for a while after they opened, they filled the orders manually.
Hard to believe, huh? But that’s how we started with ebooks. No one knew what they were, and it was complicated explaining that, yes I really was published, but no you won’t be able to find the book in a bookstore. At the time, I was living in Ireland and not everyone even had a computer!
But we were all very excited about the new format, the new way to publish. A thriving small press industry rose from those humble beginnings. We all figured in five years, ebooks would be not only accepted but a popular way to read books.
Unfortunately, we were off by a few years. It took technology a bit longer to catch up and make the reading and buying of ebooks so easy. It’s funny but even though I’ve been involved in and watching this industry grow for so long, the changes that have taken place in the last three years still took me by surprise. I mean, we all saw this coming eventually. But when things didn’t happen in five years, “eventually” started to look a lot farther off. Then suddenly it was upon us.
Now, when I say I have an ebook coming out, I don’t have to explain what that is. People ask me if it will be available on (insert your favorite ereader here), and I can happily say it will. Suddenly, where I’ve been for almost thirteen years is exactly where everyone wants to be in publishing.
And I can say, I remember when…
So what about you guys? Anyone else remember the industry this far back or even farther? What was your first introduction to ebooks? When did they show up on your radar? And what did you think?
(By the way, I still have some of those early floppy disks, including Sherrilyn’s and Diana’s books. I figure they’ll be collectors’ items some day.)
Isabo Kelly’s latest fantasy romance, BRIGHTARROW BURNING, was recently published by Samhain Publishing. And yes, it’s available in all possible formats for all available ereaders. For more about Isabo and her books, visit her at www.isabokelly.com or follow her on Twitter @IsaboKelly were she tells a lot of stories about her rambunctious toddler, Destructo.
Isabo Kelly Links:
Available for $3.50
Synopsis: Layla Brightarrow’s world fell apart the day the Sorcerers invaded her city, intent on using her fellow humans’ pain to augment their spells. Worse, the neighboring elven kingdom declared neutrality, effectively abandoning her people to struggle for survival.
Then some of the elves break neutrality to trade with the Sorcerers, and Layla is ordered to assassinate Althir, brother of the elf lord she has secretly loved all her life.
When Ulric of Glengowyn uncovers his brother’s plot—and that Layla is one of the assassins sent to stop him—his first instinct is to protect her from all possible harm. He’ll even use seduction, if necessary, to get her into a position to talk some sense into her.
Years of pent-up desire is too much for Layla to resist…and one touch unleashes an unquenchable fire that changes everything. Leaving Layla caught between duty and a love that could be her destruction. Or her salvation.