You’ve only got four days left until Valentine’s Day, and if you’re scrambling for gift ideas, e-book startup Coliloquy has an unusual promotion. Be warned, though: It is, in the words of co-founder and CEO Lisa Rutherford, “very explicit and very dirty.”
That’s right. Coliloquy is offering free, personalized erotic short stories through a program called Val-Entwined. It’s part of the new Entwined erotica line that the company created with the L. Perkins Agency.
For the Val-Entwined promotion, author Lissa Trevor has created a story template that readers can personalize with the details of their relationship, like the name and gender of their significant others, their most sensitive body parts and so on. You can then personalize the cover and send it as an email attachment that opens on Kindle devices.
To demonstrate the program, Rutherford had me create a story for her co-founder and CTO Waynn Lue. To my mind, at least, the content definitely lived up to her promise of dirtiness — I like to think that I’m reasonably hard to shock , but when Rutherford started reading passages out loud, I’m pretty sure I turned a little red. I also laughed a lot, which I’d argue is a natural reaction to hearing the details of the torrid sex that you’re going to have with the entrepreneur sitting next to you.
Put another way: This probably isn’t the right gift if you’re still feeling things out in a new relationship. But if you and your significant other are pretty, uh, comfortable with each other (or if you’ve got a friend with a sense of humor), then this could be the perfect gift. If nothing else, it’s arguably classier than sending each other dirty pictures.
The fill-in-the-blank personalization of the Val-Entwined promotion might not seem particularly sophisticated (when I was a kid, I remember receiving a picturebook that was personalized in the same way), but it’s a fun introduction to the Coliloquy platform. The company, which launched in January of last year (in fact, the launch story was the first thing I wrote for TechCrunch), aims to add a layer of interactivity to e-books, for example with multiple versions of a single scene or reader polls to determine the plot of future volumes. At Entwined, the stories actually split into four paths, each written by a different author.
As of late January, Coliloquy had 39 authors under contract, with 14 series actually launched. Two of its big genres, erotica and young adult fiction, are potentially an uncomfortable fit for a single publisher, and Rutherford acknowledged, “If we had raised a ton of money, we probably would have had different imprints and different voices for each of them.” Entwined seems like the first step in that direction, and the company may be getting more serious about it this year, especially since it plans to launch three more genres.