First, they were obscure and unattainable. I read somewhere that the biggest selling e-book of 2006 sold 60 copies. Wow.
Then they were romances, mostly erotic, possibly due to the fact that the reader did not have to take a stack of books with heaving bosoms on the cover to the register and claim them as hers. Many of those were not very good, and some readers and writers are still suffering from that mindset: e-book = trash.
But the idea did not go away. Readers like the idea of books on tap in endless supply, and publishers are starting to catch on. Yesterday I bought new releases from two author/friends offered from Day One in both e-book and print form. Yay!
There are still problems, of course. E-publishers don't really want to play nicely with each other. Protection from piracy is weak (although one person I heard speak recently who has spent years in publishing reminded us, "We're been experiencing book piracy for centuries. We call it a library.")Still, the e-book is here to stay, and anyone in publishing who ignores it does so at his or her peril.
The biggest problem for me as an author is promotion. The Internet is such an ocean, and one book such a tiny drop, that it is hard to get noticed. Those who already are well known will be found, of course. All a reader has to do is type in a name.
But what if your name is no household word?
I've heard there is a new company forming that will address the problems of lesser and unknown authors who want to publish in e-book format. When I know the details, I will share them here. Who couldn't use some help with preparing, publishing, and promoting that next book?