Saturday, January 24, 2009

Oldest Author Website

Hey, New York Times!

My friend Stephen Kotowych points out that this article in the Sunday, January 25, 2009, New York Times [but online since yesterday] says, "Back in 1996, [Brad] Meltzer built what was arguably the first author Web site for his first novel ..."

Poppycock, says I! My website has been online since Wednesday, June 28, 1995. I've never claimed it was the first author website, but it's often referred to as the first science-fiction author website (and Reuters called it that many years ago in an article) and the first Canadian author's website.

I had a website, with multiple hyperlinked pages (the main page of which was index.htm), on June 28, 1995 -- not just a page, but a multipage site (separate pages for bio, each of my novels, etc., all hyperlinked -- a web site).

Granted, it wasn't the 550 pages that my site now has -- but still it was a site.

In fact, checking my journal for the day my site went online -- Wednesday, June 28, 1995 -- I recorded that my site debuted with "thirteen linked pages (six novel excerpts, three short stories, photo, awards and honours, review excerpts, and latest news)."

Oh, and the initial wordcount of those 13 pages: 23,000 words. It was a substantial website from day one.

By July 1, 1995 -- three days later -- I added another 22 pages, bringing the total number of pages to 35 pages, and the total wordcount to 58,000.

And here's the first fan letter I got on the site, dated July 19, 1995:
Date: 19-Jul-95 04:06 EDT
From: Mike Lenius
Subj: R.J.S. Web Site

I checked out your Web Site yesterday and I just have to say that it is far and away the best Author's Page on the net. In fact there was so much information available that I will most likely have to make a few more trips before I finish reading everything that I want to. (as if I wasn't busy enough) : )

I especially enjoyed reading your short stories, I hope more authors will follow your lead as even the most ardent fan has trouble locating short stories unless they are published together as Anthologies. This is too bad as many authors are at their best when they keep it short and sweet.

The other portion of your Site that also impressed me was the "first chapters" section. Placing the first chapter and back cover blurb from each of your books is great advertising, at the very least it worked on me.

So, how hard would it have been for the crack journalists at the New York Times to find out if any author websites predated 1996? Well, how 'bout a quick Google search on "author website 1995" (without the quotation marks). Oh, look, lo and behold, right there on the first page of results is my website, and this snippet of text: "Author of 17 SF novels. Sample chapters from each book, full-text short stories, ... This web site online since 28 June 1995 — it's older than!"

"Arguably" should not be used as a substitute for "I'm too lazy to check." Perhaps the New York Times style guide should be updated to include that fine distinction. :)

The original URL of the main page of my multi-page website on June 28, 1995, was:

Its current home, of course, is at

(I'll make it even easier for the next person researching this topic by including all the keywords that might be useful so this message can be easily found via search engines: first author website; first author web site; first author homepage; first author home page; oldest author website; oldest author website; oldest author homepage; oldest author home page; author website 1995; author web site 1995; author homepage 1995; author home page 1995.)

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site