Fictionwise, one of the leading independent ebook sellers, will cease operations on December 4, 2012. Fictionwise was one of the pioneers – maybe the major pioneer – in the ebook arena. The company took an unusual route, making ebooks available in multiple formats and initiating the use of micro-payments for book purchases. It was also an early entrant in the the e-reader marketplace with its connection with the eBookwise reader.
Fictionwise launched on June 5th, 2000 as a partnership between Steve Pendergrast and Mindwise Media, LLC, which is owned by Scott Pendergrast. The success of Fictionwise led to it being spun out of Mindwise into its own company, now called Fictionwise, Inc.
If my memory is correct, Barnes & Noble paid the Pendergrasts about $15.7 million in a stock deal for the site in 2009. When I was writing for TeleRead, Scott Pendergrast told me “My brother, Steve, shopped the site around to a number of buyers with the understanding that the current philosophy toward ebooks would survive—and that presumably means that you’ll still be able to buy non-DRMed books from Fictionwise when publishers allow.”
After the purchase, B&N pretty much left the operation alone and never bothered to make much of it. I don’t know why the company ever bothered to buy it in the first place. B&N certainly failed to take advantage of the purchase.
Fictionwise sent an email out to the author this afternoon, saying “This letter is to notify you that Fictionwise will wind down its operations on December 4, 2012. The Fictionwise sites (including Fictionwise.com, eReader.com and eBookwise.com) 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.