Bestselling novel The Time Traveller's Wife is to be made available as an e-book for the first time from September. Author Audrey Niffenegger has also revealed that she has written a 30-page sequel to the novel that will be published as an e-book.
The e-book of the 2004 novel and its sequel will be sold exclusively through new e-book site Zola Books in the US in the first instance, with a UK version of Zola set to offer the e-book to UK readers soon afterwards.
Zola Books first announced a deal with Niffenegger when it launched nine months ago. Niffenegger is one of a number of authors who has invested in the site. So far only her titles Warm Bodies, The Kings and Queens of Roam and Her Fearful Symmetry have been made available on the site.
The e-book site uses apps to deliver books to devices such as iPad, but Kindle users must use the "send to Kindle" function to put e-books onto the Amazon device. Niffenegger said the site was working on a better solution to this.
Niffenegger held on to e-book rights when she published the print book in 2004. The print title has since sold 1.6m copies through Nielsen BookScan and is one of the top 20 bestselling adult novels in the UK.
Speaking at The Literary Conference, Writing in a Digital Age 2013, held at the Free Word Centre today (7th June), Niffenegger said she resisted allowing an e-book to be published until the format improved, but that she was attracted to Zola because it supported the wider community.
Named after the French author Emile Zola, Zola Books was founded in 2011, and has raised $1.3m to date from investors. The site promises that users can download the e-books onto any devices including the Kindle, and offers booksellers a revenue share if they set up "store fronts" on the website.
Niffenegger said: "We are trying to be those people that play nicely, we've been well brought up. This is an e-book company that can bring the community of authors, readers, and booksellers together--everyone functioning in the same e-book system, rather than trying to crush each other."
Niffenegger said she was positive about the growth in e-books, and that they were getter better after being initially "quite clunky", but she stressed that readers still liked physical things. "We all love things, nobody is going to eliminate things. I don't think 'e' will nuke the world of physical books, physical books don't need to be afraid, they are getting more beautiful, designers are going mad."
Speaking at a separate session, Random House's digital publisher Dan Franklin was critical of Niffenegger for not putting her e-book for sale through Amazon so it could be read seamlessly on a Kindle. "I don't know what her readers think about that, but I don't think it is fair. I'm not sure preventing your readers reading across all platforms is the right way to go."