Barnes & Noble is shutting down Fictionwise, the pioneering 12-year-old digital bookstore that it bought for $15.7 million in 2009. The company cited “a significant decrease in demand for many of the ebook formats that Fictionwise.com sells,” like Palm and Mobipocket.

fictionwise logo

When Fictionwise launched in 2000, it was a pioneer in a Kindle-less, Nook-less, iPad-less world. The site sold ebooks in a variety of formats like Palm, Rocket and Microsoft Reader. It let users download ebooks to their mobile phones — in 2001. It launched an ebook lending platform for libraries — in 2002. When Fictionwise bought Motricity’s eReader.com in 2008, it seemed as if the company might have a bright future as an independent digital bookstore, and Barnes & Noble acquired it for $15.7 million in 2009 prior to the launch of its own Nook e-reader.

Now Barnes & Noble is shutting down Fictionwise, eReader.com and sister site eBookwise.com. In a letter to publishers and authors (posted in full at Teleread), Fictionwise director of publishing Daniel Jorissen writes, “Over the past few years there has been a significant decrease in demand for many of the ebook formats that Fictionwise.com sells. In contrast, the new industry standard eBook format supported by Barnes & Noble — EPUB — is growing in popularity.”

Jorissen doesn’t mention it here, but another format growing in popularity, of course, is Kindle. (And Amazon still doesn’t support EPUB.)

Fictionwise will shut its sites on December 4, and U.S. and U.K. customers will be able to move their libraries over to Nook. (Here are the directions for doing so.)

  1. That’s too bad. The year that Barnes & Noble laid me off in a giant round of layoffs, they bought fictionwise WITH CASH. Any word on how many people are going to lose their jobs now? I guess there’s no point in asking them, when 100s were laid off when I was, they said “a few” people were laid off.

  2. Matthew Cashmore Monday, November 19, 2012

    But Amazon DOES support EPUB. Any standards complaint EPUB file will run through Amazon’s ingestion engine with no issues. The final file you see is the proprietary Amazon file – just like Apple – but it’s not fair to say amazon does not support EPUB.

    1. Christopher Dockens Monday, November 19, 2012

      I agree, ePub and almost any format including PDF is supported by Amazon, it just compiles it as a .MOBI file for their Kindle platform.

  3. Fictionwise died long before, when it became the landing zone for e-book bodice rippers and erotic fiction. As much as I may not care about who reads these genres, it is far from mainstream and low in volume. They doomed themselves.


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