Fictionwise buys eReader- end of the best ebook retailer?


FictionwiseWhile many of us were in Las Vegas at the CES this past week ebook retailer Fictionwise announced they have purchased the eReader retail unit from Motricity.  Fictionwise says this purchase will push them into the forefront of online ebook retailers by making them one of the largest ebook sellers.  I have repeatedly mentioned how I have been using eReader from the early days when they started out as Peanut Press, followed them when they were purchased by Palm and kept on dealing with them when Motricity acquired them a couple of years ago.  This announcement has left me with a cold feeling of foreboding.

One of the greatest functions that eReader has used to keep me a long-time happy customer is the simple yet effective DRM method used to protect the copyrighted ebook material.  They have always used the purchaser’s credit card number as the DRM key to unlock the material which serves two functions- it means that customers can put the ebook on any device or as many devices as they want and it also means that customers won’t share the ebook with others.  Who would share an ebook that requires their credit card number to unlock it?  Simple yet serves the company’s purpose, what could be better?

I have purchased some titles from Fictionwise in the past and was never impressed with the online store and did not find the ebooks as easy to deal with as I do with eReader.  Add to the mix that the new eReader version that lets me shop from my Windows Mobile device directly has greatly enhanced my usage of the eReader store and I have a great concern that Fictionwise will absorb eReader and make it go away.  If that happens I am offering this warning to Fictionwise, I will probably go away.  Let’s hope they keep eReader going for those of us who are very happy with it.  I also have about 300 ebooks I have purchased from eReader, now I have to worry what might happen to my library with Fictionwise taking over.


Steve P.


I’m Steve Pendergrast, one of the founders of Fictionwise.

Just to set the record straight, we are absolutely *not* going to shut down the ereader format or the ereader web site.

The eReader format and web site are both extremely important to our strategy going forward. We love the easy, flexible DRM method, and we won’t change it or make it incompatible with past purchases.

Fictionwise has a long history of going out of our way to protect our customer’s investment in their purchases. By owning the eReader format, nobody can ever take that format away from us. Every other DRM format we support is owned by a competitor of ours who could pull it away from us at any time. When you think about it that way, I think you see how important the eReader format is to Fictionwise after this acquisition, and how it would be inconceivable for us to throw that away.

What we do plan is to port the eReader software to a much wider range of devices, giving everyone who has ever bought an eReader ebook, or who will buy one in the future, as many choices as possible on how they read their books.

Hope this puts your more at ease!

-Steve P.

John Chu

It’s not “any device.” It’s “any device which supports the proprietary DRMed format,” right?

They still control where you can read the books you’ve bought. They’re merely less restrictive than many (not unlike the iTunes Music Store), but no substitute for being able to read it truly on any device.


This is great news. Fictionwise is one of the few ebook sellers that sells non-DRM ebooks. Their Multiformat has no DRM. Since I only buy non-DRM, I can hope that even more titles will now be available.

Oh, and I never bother with Micropay. I just pay as I go.

borax99 (Alain C.)

Ah, jeez, thanx for passing along the news. I’ve tried several ebook vendors, and ereader beats them all hands-down. Looks like I’m going to have to back up my online library too.

Being an optimist, I can only hope this change will result in someone setting up one of the better e-ink devices to work with the .pdb format!


Thanks for bringing this to our collective attention, James. I for one will be making backup copies of the various ereader installers.


You can’t read eReader formated books on any eInk device. I’m hoping that Fictionwise will port eReader to Java and/or Linux so that I can read my orphaned eReader books on my Iliad.

Matthew Miller (aka palmsolo)

I use Fictionwise all the time to buy Mobipocket format books and find it very easy to change devices for my books. Fictionwise lets you have 4 devices assigned for Mobipocket formatted books and you can easily change your PID (device ID number) so you can fairly easily change devices and redownload your books.

It will be interesting to see how Fictionwise handles the eReader DRM.

Jeff Singfiel

I’m a long time Fictionwise customer and have also purchased from eReader. Fictionwise also uses the CC number as a simple DRM solution for secure ereader books. Some Fictionwise title are available in up to twelve different formats. But those that are the secure eReader format use the purchasers credit card.

There still may be downsides to Fictionwise acquiring eReader, but the DRM solution may not be one of them.


I have reservations, as well. I don’t like Fictionwise’s micropay thing. Hope that doesn’t get in the eReader line-up.

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