Barnes & Noble Is Shutting Down E-Book Pioneers, And eBookwise

Barnes & Noble is shutting down Fictionwise, a company running several eBook websites, including,, and Although the move shouldn’t be all that surprising in a world of Amazon Kindles, iBookstores, and of course, B&N’s own Nook library, it’s worth a tip of our hat to these sites that laid the groundwork for the digital e-reading revolution.

Fictionwise, launched in 2000 and was acquired by B&N in March 2009 for $15.7 million, as the company planned its move into the ebooks space with the Nook tablet and accompanying bookstore. B&N announced the Nook in October 2009, and released it the following month, but these ebook outposts have still been up-and-running in all the time since. The sites operated as a standalone business unit (Fictionwise LLC) under founders Scott and Steve Pendergrast, who had first shopped the company around, but chose B&N because it would agree to uphold Fictionwise’s support for DRM-free, multi-format ebook software standards.

At the time of the acquisition, Fictionwise offered ebooks in multiple formats, including Palm, Rocket and Microsoft Reader, for example. Customers could read books on their phones, and the sites even offered a lending platform libraries and groups as far back as 2002.

According to a letter sent out to publishers and authors (reported by Teleread, and picked up by PaidContent), customers who bought titles on these stores won’t lose them, but will be able to migrate them to the B&N Nook platform instead. The letter touts the ebook format ePub as “growing in popularity,” and cites this as one of the reasons for the transition to the Nook Library.

B&N tells us that customers will be alerted to the news today, and will have the option to transfer their digital content at that time.

The letter reads as follows:

November 15, 2012

Dear Fictionwise Publisher/Author,

As you may know, Barnes & Noble acquired Fictionwise, Inc. (Fictionwise) on
March 3, 2009. Fictionwise runs several eBook websites, including, and Over the past few years there
has been a significant decrease in demand for many of the eBook formats that sells. In contrast, the new industry standard eBook format
supported by Barnes & Noble–ePub–is growing in popularity.

This letter is to notify you that Fictionwise will wind down its operations on
December 4, 2012. The Fictionwise sites (including,
and will end sales on December 4, 2012 and U.S. Fictionwise
customers will cease to have access to their Fictionwise Bookshelf through the
site after December 21, 2012. Customers outside the U.S. will cease to have
access to their Fictionwise Bookshelf through the site after January 31, 2013.
Fictionwise customers will be notified of this and U.S. and U.K. customers will
be given an opportunity to move their customer accounts, including their eBooks
purchased at the Fictionwise websites, to a Barnes & Noble NOOK Library.

Pursuant to section 2 of the agreement between Fictionwise and you, we hereby
provide you with ninety (90) days notice that this agreement will terminate
effective February 13th. Your final 4th quarter royalty statement and payment
will be mailed February 15th.

If you are not already selling your titles at and would like to do so,
please visit

We greatly appreciate your support of Fictionwise over the years. Together, we
pioneered eBooks and eReading.

Thank you,
Daniel Jorissen and The Fictionwise Team