Found via an email from Ed Howdershelt to the Ebook Community Mailing List: the swan song for e-book stores Fictionwise, eReader, and eBookwise. Barnes & Noble has emailed Fictionwise publishers and authors that it is shuttering the long-running e-book stores and will be offering US and UK customers the opportunity to migrate their e-book purchases from said sites to a Barnes & Noble Nook library. (Complete letter pasted below the jump.)

It’s really kind of sad: eReader (nee Palm Digital Media, nee Peanut Press) and Fictionwise were two of the first really big e-book stores, feeding the e-book habits of early adopters like me back in the days when nobody expected e-books to amount to anything. They hitched their wagons first to Palm and then to the iPhone/iPod, and perhaps laid the groundwork for the Kindle and Nook revolution to come.

But in a sense, this news has been a long time coming, because Fictionwise and eReader have basically been ghosts of their former selves ever since Barnes & Noble bought them. I remember the days when the Pendergrasts used to be frequent participants in discussions here, and at one point one of them even called me to let me know some great new developments in store for the future (including a Linux eReader client that died on the vine after B&N bought them). But they’ve said nary a word here in years, presumably because B&N wouldn’t let them. (Are they even still with B&N? B&N’s letter is signed “Daniel Jorissen and The Fictionwise Team,” which makes me wonder.) The death of Fictionwise’s Buywise discount program to agency pricing was just the icing on the cake.

On the bright side, at least the (US and UK) people who bought books there (supposedly) won’t lose them, with B&N migrating them to its Nook platform. (Will this include titles like Jerry Ahern’s Survivalist series and others that the companies haven’t sold in years but keep available for download by people who bought them?) That’s nice of them. With reader apps available for many platforms, B&N will at least give those customers continued access to the books they bought. And that’s a good thing.

Original letter 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


  1. Thanks for documenting this piece of eBook history Chris. I always enjoy learning about the early days of digital reading. You should write a book! Or at least a long blog post about all of the major eBook sellers and free eBooks sites that have come and gone; what eBook reading was like in the old days, ect. Thanks for your unique perspective.

  2. Sad, but not a surprise. I was a loyal eReader customer for years, with my trusty Sony Clis.

    What is still surprising to me is how much all the current device makers – Sony, Amazon, B&N, Kobo and Apple ignored in their race to build their ebook ecosystems.

    Fictionwise, eReader, Mobipocket and Stanza were way ahead in app features, ease of use and integration of store and app, when the others dipped their toes in the water and started all over, with lots of unnecessary flubs. I think it really set the eBook industry back at least 3 years.

    And I’m think I’m still a little bitter that Amazon and B&N bought and wasted Mobi, Stanza and Fictionwise. Maybe that’s why I shop at Kobo, and read on a Sony device.

  3. While sad, I’m not surprised. I stopped using Fictionwise shortly after agency pricing went into effect. It went from a place where I spent thousands of dollars to 0, it no longer had the books I wanted, and never pursued the deals to publish agency books. The press release is a little disingenuous, its not that the industry has moved on, its that Barnes and Noble crippled Fictionwise by insuring that it didn’t carry high profile books any more (which helped sell the lower profile books it did carry).

    I had to pick an ecosystem to join after leaving fictionwise, I picked Amazon because I didn’t like how Barnes and Noble treated Fictionwise. The funny thing is that Fictionwise supported the ‘new ebook format’ before Barnes and Noble did…..

  4. So sad and a worry for me. Fictionwise was where I was getting “Asimov’s Science Fiction”. With Fictionwise gone, what other avenue is open for me (a non-US resident) to get Asimov’s in a non-DRM format?

    Please, don’t say “Get from Amazon”. They do not offer Asimov’s in my region and I ABSOLUTELY DETEST the regional DRM they use.

  5. It’s a shame to see them go, they were my main eBook sources back in the days before geo restrictions. Nowadays the only thing I use Fictionwise for is the Asimovs magazine, hopefully that’ll continue being available elsewhere!

  6. What happens to DRM restrictions on titles purchased from eReader/Fictionwise? I still have a bundle from way back that I’d be sad to lose. On the other hand, the eReader client has been a poorly maintained joke for a while now, and I’d be very happy to switch these over to ePub or Kindle format. But naturally these are DRM-protected. Will B&N support some kind of managed/supervised format switchover?

  7. I got an email from Fictionwise tonight. I’m a customer, not a publisher or author, so the email I got was aimed at customers. I was pleasantly surprised at what they’ve arranged.

    We will be able to transfer “most” of our DRMed books from Fictionwise/ereader/ebookwise to B&N where they will be kept permanently (or at least for as long as B&N’s Nook business is around). We’ll be able to download the books in epub format.

    I’m assuming that the books not included in the “most” category are those that are no longer available to B&N for one reason or another.

  8. I echo most of the sentiments here. For me, the I have avoided Kindle, Nook, and their like because the restrictions on my E-books are just too onerous: higher prices, can’t give a book to someone else, stuck with the one company you purchased from.

    Fictionwise helped me discover many new authors, and for that I’m grateful.

    It wasn’t long after the purchase that weekly E-mail promotions stopped. I can’t recall receiving any e-mails from Fictionwise since the buyout. They still have my address though, here’s the E-mail I received as a customer last night:

    Dear Fictionwise and eBookwise Customer,

    As you may know, in March of 2009, Fictionwise, comprised of several eBook retail websites, including , and, was acquired by Barnes & Noble.

    Fictionwise is in the process of winding down its operations, and (including and will end sales on December 4, 2012. Please note, you will not be able to access your Fictionwise Bookshelf after December 21, 2012.

    An Easy Transition to Barnes & Noble’s NOOK® Reading Experience

    We know how important eBooks are to you, and we’d like to offer you the opportunity to transfer your Bookshelf to a NOOK Library by following the steps below.

    You will be able to read the transferred eBooks that you purchased at Fictionwise (including and by downloading NOOK’s free mobile app to your iOS or Android smartphone or tablet, or you can read your transferred eBooks with your PC/Mac web browser, as well as on the award-winning NOOK® devices. If you would like to transfer your Fictionwise eBooks in your Fictionwise Bookshelf to a NOOK Library, simply opt-in by following the steps below.

    Step 1:

    Click through to the link below to go to the opt-in page, where you’ll be instructed to confirm that you would like your Fictionwise eBooks in your Fictionwise Bookshelf transferred to a NOOK Library. Please opt-in by December 21, 2012.

    Step 2:

    Once you opt-in, you will receive an email from Barnes & with an access code and instructions for redeeming this code. This access code represents the Fictionwise eBooks in your Fictionwise Bookshelf that are being transferred to a NOOK Library for you. You will also see a link to a code redemption page.

    Click through to the redemption page and simply enter your code as prompted. This will move your existing eBooks into a NOOK Library. Please redeem this code by January 31, 2013.

    How Will the Transition Work?

    · Once you enter your access code, if you do not already have a Barnes & account you will be prompted to create an account connected with this email address.
    · When you create your Barnes & account, you will be asked for a credit card. A credit card is required to access some secured titles. Please note, however, that your credit card will not be charged for any of the titles that you transferred from Fictionwise nor for the transfer itself.
    · A few Fictionwise titles may not transfer due to discontinued publishing programs. You will be able to see which titles are not able to be transferred by clicking here. In most cases, you can back up these Fictionwise files to your personal hard drive on a Mac or PC. To learn more about backing up these files, please click here
    · AudioBooks will not be part of this transfer process. If you want to continue to access audiobook files, we recommend that you back up those files if you haven’t done so already. To learn more about backing up and downloading these files, please click here
    · Personal files that you may have uploaded to your eBookwise library (i.e., any file in your eBookwise library that was not sold to you by eBookwise) will not transfer.
    · Subscriptions to magazines will not transfer. Please note that these subscriptions have been fulfilled through November 2012. Any remaining balance in your subscription will be refunded and subscription holders will receive a separate communication regarding this refund.

    Please note that once the Fictionwise eBooks are transferred to a NOOK Library, the eBooks will be in ePub format. The ePub titles that will appear in your new NOOK Library cannot be read on Fictionwise legacy applications and devices.

    If you elect to opt in, please note that any eBooks you have purchased at from October 23th to December 4, 2012, will not be part of the initial transfer process, but will be automatically transferred to your NOOK Library starting December 10, 2012. No action is required on your part once you have opted in.

    A reminder: Whether or not you opt in to have your Fictionwise eBooks transferred to a NOOK Library, by December 21, 2012, you should download any titles and/or files you plan to read on an application or on a device that does not support ePub. You can learn more about downloading your Fictionwise files here:

    To transfer your Fictionwise eBooks to a NOOK Library, click here to go to the opt-in page.

    Please opt-in by December 21, 2012.

    What if I don’t opt-in to have my eBooks transferred?

    After December 21, 2012, your Fictionwise Bookshelf will no longer be accessible via the website. If you decide not to opt-in to have your Fictionwise Bookshelf transferred to NOOK, you will need to make sure that, if you haven’t done so already, you have downloaded your eBooks to continue reading these eBooks through Fictionwise legacy applications and devices. Since AudioBooks, any personal files created, and subscriptions to magazines will not be available to transfer to a NOOK Library, please make sure you have previously downloaded these files, or please download these files before December 21, 2012. You can learn more about downloading your Fictionwise files here:

    Information about Micropay Accounts and Buywise Club

    Please take a moment to use your Micropay Dollars at, as they will not be valid after December 4, 2012. Please note that any eBooks purchased at Fictionwise after you have opted-in to transfer to a NOOK Library at Barnes & Noble will not be part of the initial transfer process. As noted above, a second transfer will be possible for titles purchased between October 23  December 4, 2012 and you will automatically be eligible for this second transfer once opted-in.

    If you don’t use your Micropay Dollars by December 4, 2012, you will receive a separate email regarding the refund on any balance in your account.

    For more information about how you can transfer your Fictionwise Bookshelf to a NOOK Library, including additional details on how the transition will apply to current Buywise Club members, eMagazine subscriptions, Micropay Dollars and more, please visit our FAQ web page:

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

    Thank you.

    The Fictionwise Team

  9. I too got my letter this morning and immediately came here to share the tears. Fictionwise was great. It pioneered DRM free books when nobody else thought they could last. Unfortunately it seems almost no one remaining thinks they can last either. The only DRM free publishers are Tor and Baen, right? Thank heaven for Calibre.

  10. Fictionwise also fostered the small ebook publishers and their authors. Even after the big publishers FINALLY started offering ebooks, you were as likely to see one of my books featured as one of the big publishers authors on their site and their newsletters.

    RIP, Fictionwise, you did good.

  11. I used to buy from Fictionwise before 2008; I liked them a lot even though I was using the Microsoft Reader on my Dell PDA. Once I switched to Kindle I never went back.

    They did a lot of good things. They allowed me to migrate some of my old Reader titles to a new format when the .lit bought the farm so i could access the books on my iPad.

    I guess the option to migrate to B&N is nice to have, but I’d rather not switch to Nook Books. My wife now “owns” the iPad and I have the Kindles and Kindle Fire for reading. If Amazon ever made their Special Offers mandatory, I’d go for Nook or Kobo, so I might store my old books there just in case, but the odds are against me ever really using them regularly.

  12. This is sad news. For years, Fictionwise was my biggest distributor and it still regularly generates hundreds of dollars in quarterly royalties. More important, from my perspective, they were very active in giving new books by small publishers front page space (try doing that on Amazon or BN). I remember watching one of my books climb their best-selling list and the first time one of my books became “most liked.”

    That said, their discount structure was never especially publisher-friendly and with Amazon’s matching program and royalty program, it was easy to lose money selling through Fictionwise (because you sold few books on FW but Amazon price-matched and dropped your royalty from 70% to 35%).

    I’ll have to rush over to FW and spend my credits before it’s too late.

    Some day, some one will write the history of eBooks. Peanut/Palm/eReader and Fictionwise will both be key elements of that history.

    Rob Preece, Publisher

  13. I tried to transfer my Fictionwise books to Barnes and Noble. I got an error message claiming that my email address didn’t match their records. Hmmm. My email address is the same one that’s on file at Fictionwise. WTF? I’ve emailed support and have yet to hear from them.

  14. I clicked the link to transfer my files. Nothing’s shown up yet. I tweeted about it to @nookBN and got this in response: “@cabridges We’re sorry for the inconvenience and are working to resolve this issue.”

    One odd thing: my link said to transfer my Fictionwise files. The follow up email said it was to move my ereader files. I assume both are moving, but it would be nice if they didn’t sound like they were confused about what they were doing.

  15. I received my “fictionwise notice” email from B7N yesterday as well. As I live in Canad, my email was different. I was instructed to download copies of all my books on my bookshelf before 31Jan2013. Unfortunatelt, when i began that process, I discovered that approximately half of the books which were originally purchased in secure ereader format are now :unavailable for download in my region”. I was not given an offer to convert to another format or download as epubs. Therefore, half of my e-reading library is gone. These books were fairly purchased to support the authors, and if I purchased as traditional paperbacks, would be on my shelf for future enjoyment. I’ll miss Fictionwise. No thanks to B&N.

  16. So far I’ve just gotten the Fictionwise email, but with the ereader reference mentioned by C. A. Bridges above.

    I have 363 books showing in my Fictionwise account and 489 in my ereader account.
    So far twelve books have been transferred to B&N — they were all multi-format but, interestingly, one of the twelve is from my ereader account.

    The FAQs say that we’ll be able to move the ereader and FW books to separate B&N accounts if we want, but there doesn’t actually be a way to do that.

    Another email just arrived, while I was writing this.

    Dear Customer,

    Thank you for opting to transfer your Fictionwise or eReader Bookshelf to a NOOK Library.

    We are continuing the transfer process which is ongoing during the week of November 19, 2012. If you have more titles that are eligible for transfer, we will deliver those titles to your new NOOK Library. You do not need to do anything more in this process as any transferrable remaining titles will appear automatically in your NOOK Library.

    Thank you for your patience and we look forward to serving you.


    The NOOK Team

    I guess they’ve been getting a lot of emails 😉

  17. @terry
    Register you Fictionwise account with US address, and do the same for your ereader unlock code credit card address. Just Google a valid US address.
    If you do not have an US VPN, install Hotspot Shield (free) on your PC.
    Start the VPN. When the VPN is active you should be able to download all your books.

  18. There’s one big lesson here for everybody to take home and ponder. Namely, if you are a good boy or girl and play by all the rules that are put in place by publishers and government, then you WILL get screwed over eventually.

    The conclusion is to NOT buy any ebooks or any other digital media that is encumbered with DRM or is otherwise dependent on any corporate controlled hardware, software or server.

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