But is it real?

Multi-level library

The second instalment in our series comparing the feelings evoked by e-books and paperbacks. This week, the musings of

A.J. Llewellyn

When I had my first romance novel published in 2008, I was super excited. I loved the cover of my book, Phantom Lover, and my publisher at Extasy Books was very supportive. Very few writers were working on M/M back then, as in male-male romance, but I took to it immediately. Almost all my male friends were gay. I’d heard all their romantic war stories and…borrowed a few of them for my books.

After months of rigorous edits with my assigned editor, and proof-reading from a final line editor, formatting, promotion—all the things a book goes through—I was thrilled when Phantom Lover came out and people were buying it!

I was ecstatic to be involved with this new technology of eBooks.

Back then, the publisher sold more on her own website and some through the now-defunct websites Fictionwise and All Romance eBooks. Amazon wasn’t even a blip on the eBook horizon. Yet.

E-readers were in their infancy. I laugh thinking about the massive Sony Readers rabid romance fans bought from Borders Books (and later electronics goods stores like Fry’s). They were like early cell phones. Gigantic, heavy things. And expensive, too.

The first time I saw a copy of Phantom Lover loaded on somebody’s Sony Reader, I got a kick out of it. Ironically, I couldn’t afford one of those machines myself and bought a JetBook, a much cheaper version from Fictionwise. It took four AA batteries, which made one side flop over. And it ran out of juice all the time. It malfunctioned a lot, and I needed to carry a safety pin with me when I went out so I could stick it into this little hole on the side to jump-start it.

Sony E-Reader
Sony E-Reader circa 2008

For real.

But. It came loaded with thirty classic novels and what sites like Fictionwise and All Romance offered were major incentives for romance readers. I was in book heaven!

Earning book credits was easy and I was constantly uploading other authors’ books to read for dirt cheap. Instead of carrying a book everywhere I went, I carried my little JetBook with fifty books loaded on it. People would approach me whenever they saw me with it and ask me what the hell it was.

And then something weird happened.

I told a very close friend that Phantom Lover was a best seller and she said, “Too bad it’s not a real book.”

Phantom Lover cover

I still gasp thinking of those words.

Too bad it’s not a real book.

I’m here to tell you that what I saw at the revolution was the evolution of e-readers and the rapid takeover of companies like Fictionwise, which sold out to Barnes and Noble in 2009. Their little E Readers were put to pasture in favor of B and N’s own brand, Nook.

When B&N took over Fictionwise, they had a staggering one and a half million e-books at their fingertips. And the technology just kept improving.

Go back and read some of the idiotic blogs back then, where some authors huffed that e-books were a fad and would die off quickly.

Didn’t happen. In fact, they just improved when things like iPads and down the line, Kindle took to the Internet. The e Book Reader became a thing. And you betcha, all those books people put on them were, and still are, real.

And lucrative.

So yeah. They’re real.

I do love hard cover and paperback books and will never give up my collection, but I would rather wait for my car to be washed reading my iPad which has over 150 books stored on it than a paperback.

What if I get bored? I can always pick another book to read.

I have my own thoughts about why All Romance eBooks failed, and I won’t go into it here, but for many of us, it was the first of the third-party sites that treated us romance authors as genuine writers. I still miss seeing silver stars denoting best-seller status on my new releases. I miss the camaraderie we all shared.

When Amazon took over, well, everything, it all changed. It’s a business. And believe me, it’s real. E-books are as real as an individual book you can hold in your hands. I don’t discriminate where books are concerned. I want the words, the story. And I’ll take ’em any way I can get ’em.

I’m just glad I don’t have to carry around a safety pin anymore.

Aloha oe,


A.J. Llewellyn

Bestselling author A.J. Llewellyn

A.J. Llewellyn lives in California, but dreams of living in Hawaii. Frequent trips to all the islands, bags of Kona coffee in the fridge and a healthy collection of Hawaiian records keep this writer refueled.

A.J’s passion for the islands led to writing a play about the overthrow of Queen Lili’uokalani’s kingdom.

A.J. never lacks inspiration for writing erotic romances but has many other passions: collecting books on Hawaiiana, surfing and spending time with family, friends and animal companions.

A.J. Llewellyn believes that love is a song best sung out loud.

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2 thoughts on “But is it real?

  1. I don’t know what I’d do without my e-reader! So many choices. I’ll be 683 years old when I finish what I have loaded today! I’ve been seriously downsizing, preparing for life in the old folks home, I guess. Donated a big box of hard back books to the library, gave several boxes of cookbooks and religious books to friends, donated many good paperbacks to Goodwill. I’ve only kept about 9 physical books; 2 that have meant a lot in different periods of my life and the rest are autographed copies I’ve been gifted. Yep! I only read 2 of them in the physical form; the rest were downloaded to read on the tablet! LOL

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