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Barnes and Noble Acquires Fictionwise for $15.7 Million

I have so many words swirling around in my head as a result of the news broke on the Teleread.org blog that BN acquired Fictionwise. My first thought was, good on the Pendergrast brothers who were pioneers in the ebook retailing field. Fictionwise has always been a big supporter of non DRM’ed ebooks and providing content in as many formats as possible.

My second thought is that this is a huge validation of ebooks and the market for ebooks.

My third thought is that Amazon will finally have some real competition. I have to believe that Barnes and Noble, with the Fictionwise acquisition, will marry it’s bookstore/retail end with a hardware device whether it’s an existing device like Sony or a new device.

My fourth thought is similar to that of David Rothman’s at Teleread.org and that is Barnes and Noble should adopt and push epub books to truly combat any monopoly that Amazon may naturally gain through its marriage of hardware + bookstore.

Let me end with extending my congratulations to the Pendergrasts and everyone at Fictionwise. You deserve this good fortune because it’s your hard work and dedication that made it happen.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

22 Comments

  1. SB Sarah
    Mar 05, 2009 @ 09:45:40

    Hear, hear. Especially the part about validation. It should have to be said over and over again that ebook readers are not stealing profits from print books.

    We are our own market, we are a flourishing market, and it shouldn’t have to be a worry that we’re going to cause damage to print sales. New market = good. Increased sales in new market = double good. Increased sales in a new market with limitless potential for additional marketing opportunities and creating new reader demographic: extra more gooder.

  2. MarnieColette
    Mar 05, 2009 @ 10:04:02

    I am happy. I love Fictionwise and B&N. I am so glad that Amazon.com will finally have some competition – it frustrated me when they eliminated other e-formats from their site.

  3. vanessa jaye
    Mar 05, 2009 @ 10:05:27

    Now that’s fantastic news! I’ve always been very uneasy about the veritable choke-hold Amazon has on publishing/book selling and now establishing on ebooks.

    But I might as well cop to being a hypocrite as I was also pretty darn happy about the Kindle/Apple news yesterday, because I plan to replace my current cell with an iphone this summer. (even though I’d have been perfectly fine with the Stanza thingie.)

  4. XandraG
    Mar 05, 2009 @ 11:07:12

    I don’t know what to think about this. Like the previous posters and Jane, I’m overjoyed that a.) ebooks are getting validation (even if it’s after the big NY pubs are just finally starting to be aware of them), and b.) Amazon has competition.

    But then…one of the nice things I found about Fictionwise was that it was at its heart, an indie kinda place. I got the sense that books at FW were there for no other reason besides FW wanted to sell all sorts of books. Now I’m going to have to wonder if the one person who is B&N’s main buyer isn’t going to have an even bigger chokehold on what gets put up for sale than before.

    And what will happen with payments out to publishers? Will tying Fictionwise into a behemoth like B&N mean that publishers won’t receive payments as promptly as before?

    I mean, I’m all for ebooks getting the attention they deserve…but I’m also leery of giant behemoths stomping around in meadows with ecosystems that support smaller and more numerous critters.

    I guess we’ll see.

  5. BevBB
    Mar 05, 2009 @ 11:09:58

    This is wonderful. I’ve always liked them as an alternative to Amazon, more so nowadays because Amazon’s pages are so funky about loading. And I absolutely hate Amazon’s new page layouts. Now, if B&N integrates the ebooks even more on-site, I’ll definitely be there a lot because I’m constantly on the lookout for my books for my eBookwise.

    Oh, and is anyone else having problems with the Teleread link? I think the link is okay but maybe the site is down or something?

  6. Heather Massey
    Mar 05, 2009 @ 11:17:07

    Oh my.

    Thanks for posting the news!

  7. LindaR
    Mar 05, 2009 @ 11:33:52

    If I were queen of B&N, I’d also buy DA and SBTB.

    I would keep my hands off editorial, but I’d supply technical doodads and linkage to the B&N ebookstore and PAY the Ja(y)nes, et al. great gobs so they could quit their day jobs and grow DA and SBTB.

  8. Sela Carsen
    Mar 05, 2009 @ 11:33:55

    I’m 90% pleased with this development, but the other 10% is wondering about B&N’s attitude toward small publishers, which is pretty unfriendly. How is that going to affect what Fictionwise carries?

    And if they’ve changed their mind-set recently and I don’t know about it, please fill me in!

  9. Jennifer McKenzie
    Mar 05, 2009 @ 11:34:24

    I’m wondering about the prices. One of the things I love about Fictionwise (and ebooks directly from epublishers) is the reasonable price. Now, I’m concerned the big corporate practice of raising prices will kill the company.
    But I think it’s great for all the reasons you mentioned.

  10. Rowan Larke
    Mar 05, 2009 @ 11:50:24

    Change! *wince, cringe*

    Must.

    Resist.

    Change.

    Oh, I’m thrilled for those Pendergrasts, really but…who said that FW had that “indie bookstore feel”…THAT!! I love seeing all kinds of books, shelved in what might be random order. Strolling through and finding what I want. And when my local indie goes down in favor of a chainstore, I’m happy for them, sad for me.

    Of course, if we can keep that and ALL the books are available in a format my Sony Reader can read without making me feel like an extra on the set of Hackers…well, then…

  11. Anion
    Mar 05, 2009 @ 12:53:40

    @BevBB:

    I've always liked them as an alternative to Amazon, more so nowadays because Amazon's pages are so funky about loading. And I absolutely hate Amazon's new page layouts.

    Thank you!! I thought it was a sign of my poor laptop’s aging that Amazon pages take forever to load now, and are jerky and weird when they do. I used to like shopping there but now I don’t; too many stupid bells and whistles that make it load too slowly.

  12. BevBB
    Mar 05, 2009 @ 12:57:38

    I was just on Fictionwise and they have a FAQ page up about the aquisition .

    And how come I didn’t know about the eReader.com site, being I use Fictionwise?

  13. ReacherFan
    Mar 05, 2009 @ 13:08:44

    I’m glad someone is in a position to give Amazon a run for their money. I buy from both online stores and I also buy ebooks directly from publisher’s outlets as well as places like ebooks.com. A year ago, I wouldn’t have cared. Now I do. Why the change? It’s hard finding some of my favorites in print, so I had to resort to ebooks. Now I have over a hundred. And when I get a lemon I feel a lot less guilty about deleting file than I do about throwing away a book! :-)

    By the way, I have yet to spring for a reader of any type. My ebooks are all on my laptops. I looked long and hard at the Kindle and just could not justify the expense given half of the books would have ended up on my laptops anyway.

  14. BevBB
    Mar 05, 2009 @ 13:13:59

    Thank you!! I thought it was a sign of my poor laptop's aging that Amazon pages take forever to load now, and are jerky and weird when they do. I used to like shopping there but now I don't; too many stupid bells and whistles that make it load too slowly.

    No, it’s not just you. Not sure when I first noticed it but it’s been months now. Maybe longer than that. I do know I hadn’t been there for a while and then when I did go back, I thought something was wrong with my computer. Now it’s downright painful because, honest to goodness, I swear simply looking up a book almost makes Internet Explorer lock up. Not a good thing. And before everyone jumps on IE, it doesn’t happen elsewhere with heavily interactive sites. So it’s the Amazon site, it isn’t IE.

    Not sure what they think they’re accomplishing because it ain’t working. And, you know, you have to actually be able to get on the site and care to complain about it. I can’t even remember the last time I bought something from them, much less spent any productive time there.

  15. ReacherFan
    Mar 05, 2009 @ 14:05:40

    Odd. I’m on Amazon often, sometimes every day, taking advantage of their 4-for-3 promotion on paperbacks, reading forums, checking prices, etc. and I have no problems with pages loading. I use Firefox on an XP Pro platform with Kaspersky internet security. Haven’t used IE in a couple of years except when I have to for some apps.

  16. Danielle
    Mar 05, 2009 @ 14:30:53

    Now the ebook survey that I took from Barnes and Noble makes sense!!!

  17. Keishon
    Mar 05, 2009 @ 18:15:02

    Barnes and Noble did use to have an ebook store of their own at one time. I hope this is good news and further validation and advancement of ebooks.

  18. Miki
    Mar 05, 2009 @ 19:22:26

    @Jennifer McKenzie: I’m with you.

    My first thought when reading this post was “there go the good discounts”.

    :(

    (If I knew how to make a crying emoticon, I would.)

  19. Kaetrin
    Mar 05, 2009 @ 23:23:16

    Jane – do you think this will mean greater support for Sony readers (as in selling ePub and/or Adobe (DE or just PDF) from Fictionwise now?

  20. Jane
    Mar 06, 2009 @ 08:26:04

    I don’t know. I think it would mean more support for Sony Readers from Fictionwise, assuming that fulfillment of books will come directly from Fictionwise and not Lightning Source and Overdrive. I say that because BN is big into vertical integration. They tried in 2007 to merge with Ingram which is the largest distributor in the US. Given the moves of Amazon, acquiring POD, launching Kindle, in order for BN to remain competitive, it will have to do more to create a vertical supply chain so that all profits downstream in publishing are recaptured.

  21. Kay Sisk
    Mar 06, 2009 @ 11:47:12

    Glad as I am to see hard work on the part of Fictionwise rewarded, I’m concerned about whether new owner BN will still be dealing with the smaller ePresses, such as mine.

    Also, on the Tech Bytes section of ABC News this morning, in detailing this, they said the largest seller by genre on Fictionwise, was–no surprise to us, I’m sure–romance.

  22. GrowlyCub
    Apr 27, 2009 @ 20:31:10

    Well, this is the bad news I was afraid it would be. Lots of the new titles and also a considerable number of older ones in my wish list are now Mobi only. I was going to buy the new Balogh (100% microrebate), but it’s only available in Mobi. I knew BN would ruin Fictionwise. :(

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