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E-Books: A Brief History (Sort of)

It was a dark and stormy night. The writer sat at her desk, pen poised above the paper, waiting for inspiration to occur; waiting for the muse to inject her mind with the words she needed to express herself. But each time she began, she felt constrained. She stared at the sheet of paper; rectangle in shape, it resembled a box to her, a box that defined the boundaries limiting her artistic expression.

She wanted badly to write outside the box. But how? The letters, all telling her just how "inside-the-box" she must remain, were neatly stacked beside her desk, each bearing a New York postmark. The writer frowned at them in despair.

Outside, the storm grew louder. The unmistakable crack of thunder, nearly overhead, startled her and she glanced toward the window. Lightning lit the sky again and again, illuminating her office with a brilliant radiance that almost blinded her. Somehow, she was not afraid. For reasons she did not understand, she got up from her desk and stood aside. At that precise moment, a crazily jagged, white-hot beam shot down from the heavens, pierced the roof of her house and exploded into the room, traveling through her desk and disappearing into the floor.

The writer was stunned. Her eyes wide, she stared awe-struck at the page upon which she had been writing; it was no longer rectangle, square, or otherwise uniformly shaped. Its edges were vague and undefined, and it seemed to glow as if it had absorbed some of the electricity discharged by the lightning bolt.

The rejection letters lay like so much confetti around her feet.

Thus, the electronic book was born.

Well, it was almost like that. But however it happened, this is one writer who's glad it did. Authors not able or willing to write within the confines prescribed by the print world decision-makers at last have another road to walk. No longer will dreams have to be shelved in favor of forced compliance. Instead, dreams can become reality.

My dream is about to become a reality. StarCrossed Hearts was first written in 1991 and first rejected in 1991. It was also put in the bottom drawer in 1991. It wasn't any good anyway. It was about Hollywood stars, you see. Worse, it had two heroes. It was also too long (only authors like Margaret Mitchell or Colleen McCullough are allowed to write long books, you know.) And there wasn't a single bodice-ripping scene to be found.

And yet, in April 2001, StarCrossed Hearts will be released in its full, unabridged glory, as an electronic book. A trade paperback will be printed on demand. My two heroes rejoice! My publisher is not even located in New York. They are located in Oklahoma, Washington, Arizona, and several other states where the many dedicated e-publishing staff members live and work.

For the record, my first e-book was a contemporary romance published in October 1999. Another, a teen problem novel, was released in October 2000. I know about both romance and teens, since I've been married to a very romantic guy for over twenty years, and together we have two teenaged sons and a daughter just starting kindergarten. Please visit my website at Beacon Street Publications to learn more about me and my literary efforts. I am thrilled to be a part of Dreams to Reality and am anxious to share whatever I can to help others on the road. 'Til next time…

by Pam Ripling © 2001