Armistead Maupin’s seminal Tales of the City novels, acclaimed for their depictions of gay life in San Francisco, are to be available electronically for the first time.

The series began in 1978 as a daily column in the San Francisco Chronicle and has followed the inhabitants of the 28 Barbary Lane through the AIDS epidemic up to the modern day.

In an interview with PinkNews.co.uk today, Maupin says the series, which has sold more than six million copies, may have been the first time gay characters were treated as “normal” by American writers.

He told PinkNews.co.uk: “Even the great gay writers at the time like Capote, Vidal and Baldwin were presenting an image of homosexuality that was ultimately quite bleak.

“But I was here in San Francisco, filled with the joy of the town and with the acceptance I felt not just from gay people, but also straight San Franciscans. That rubbed off in the work and found its way to other people.”

Three miniseries starring Olympia Dukakis and Laura Linney were made from the first Tales novels, which followed 25-year-old Mary Ann Singleton as she began life in San Francisco.

Tales of the City has now been made into a musical with book by Jeff Whitty, who also wrote Avenue Q, and Jake Shears of the Scissor Sisters.

Of the re-release of the series, Armistead said: “I revived a Victorian tradition when I started writing “Tales” in a daily newspaper thirty-six years ago. As Dickens knew, this was great for building suspense, since readers had to wait for a while before getting their next fix.

“Now, thanks to modern technology, they can wolf down all eight novels without stopping for food or conversation. I don’t advise this. I take no responsibility for malnutrition or failed marriages. But at least you can’t lend it to friends and never get it back.”

In recognition of the way the series was originally published, the e-books are being released in instalments, with all eight books being available by 13 March 2012.

On the publication of the books in electronic form, Maupin added: “Up until last year I was very grumpy about eBooks. Then I got an iPad and realised that together they meant I could read on my back without having to adjust the bedside light that for the first time in a long while, I didn’t need my reading glasses to read. It was after those revelations that I fell in love with them.

“They have different advantages for different people. I was on Facebook complaining about eBooks very early on and a disabled gay man from the wilds of Montana posted about how they’d changed his life because for the first time he could turn pages.”