Paper to Pixels:

Pioneering Electronic Publishing

by

Pam Ripling

© April 2000


The letter "e" has taken on special significance of late, where its attachment to the beginning of such commonplace words as "Toys", "Commerce" and "Bay" makes it into a high-tech sounding icon of sorts. So what comes to mind when you hear the term, "e-book"?


You may have seen the crew of Star Trek's U.S.S. Enterprise reading text on small, hand-held "readers". But did you know that those little devices are available now, and you can read everything from King James to Stephen King on them? I didn't know until about 8 months ago when a writing buddy of mine suggested I send my newly completed novel to Book-On-Disc.com for possible publication. So I did. And last week, IN TOO DEEP was listed on the 1999 bestseller list of the internet's most popular e-book information site, www.eBookConnections.com.


An amazing story? I thought so too. Although I've been published in literary journals, poetry magazines and spent many years publishing newsletters myself, I have yet to break through the barriers protecting those coveted "New York" publishing houses. Romantic fiction, in particular, seems to be mired by genre or "category" guidelines, making it nearly impossible for a creative writer to break into - at least in print. While electronic publishers use the same quality-demanding criteria of the big houses, authors have greater freedom with characters and plot, more "say" in revisions, more input in cover art and sales blurbs, higher royalties, and are a part of something new and exciting. And there is an ever-growing list of e-publishers to choose from, some also offering limited run print versions of their books.


Is there a real market for e-books? Microsoft's Bill Gates has predicted more than one million titles will be sold during the first year his "Reader" software is available. E-books are sold on-line from publisher websites and a variety of booksellers, including Amazon.com, Borders.com, BN.com. Downloads can cost under $3.00, but if you want a CD or diskette, prices vary starting at under $5.00. If you don't like the thought of reading a book on your computer, attractive alternatives include downloading into hand-held personal data assistants (i.e., Palm Pilots T and similar devices) or dedicated e-book "readers" such as the Rocket eBook T. The Rocket is a nifty little machine that weighs in at a scant 22 ounces, holds around ten books and can display in large type (http://www.rocket-ebook.com).


Well, I for one hope Mr. Gates is right, because my second book is debuting on the web this summer. LOCKER SHOCK! is a young adult mystery and the first in a series about an adventurous group of middle school friends. Check out the cover photo of the last remaining lockers at Placerita Jr. High. POINT SURRENDER, a contemporary romantic mystery, will be out this fall.


Word on the "e"street is that books on disc are coming to local book retailers very soon, and you can bet this e-book pioneer's books will be there.

Pam Ripling is President of Valdata Services, Inc., an escrow trust accounting firm located in Valencia where she lives with her husband and three children. She is Vice President of Gold Coast Fiction Writers and a regular contributor to their monthly publication WORDSMITH. Her romantic women's fiction appears under the name of Anne Carter.