R.I.P., Fictionwise and eReader

This has been a long time coming, but Barnes and Noble is finally putting Fictionwise and eReader out to pasture. They purchased the sites three years ago, and from that purchase the NOOK was born. But now that the NOOK clearly outshines its older siblings, Barnes and Noble apparently feels there isn’t a benefit to maintaining the prior brands. Even though I’ve said for years this makes more sense, it’s still sad to see Fictionwise and eReader disappear. They go back to the days of Palm OS and Peanut Press, and they were truly pioneers of eBook reading.

The first thing I did when I bought my Palm Zire 71 back in the day was install eReader and buy a book. For the record, all my friends thought it was completely insane that I would want to read a book in electronic form! Today, most of those skeptics own Kindles.

And that outcome (where most people have Kindles or NOOKs) is what has been slowly killing eReader and Fictionwise for years. Barnes and Noble’s NOOK store had a deeper catalog, more actively developed applications, and it was a one stop shop with the NOOK. New customers weren’t bothering with Fictionwise because it didn’t offer much of an incentive, and even existing customers were no doubt being drawn into the NOOK fold. Once you took your eReader or Fictionwise library and loaded up on your NOOK via your computer, you had two choices: keep side loading, or take advantage of the fast, easy, integrated NOOKstore over WiFi. I can’t imagine anyone besides the most devoted loyalists choosing Fictionwise over the much more convenient NOOKstore.

According to the letter to authors that Teleread found, there will be a migration plan for anyone who has a library at Fictionwise:

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.

Fictionwise’s website isn’t reflecting anything yet, but just in case-if you have any Fictionwise Buywise program credits or other outstanding credits, use them before December 4th! Presumably an email will go out to anyone registered in the eReader/Fictionwise system with instructions on how to migrate your library. In addition, this might be a good time to back up your whole library on a hard drive or flash drive, just to be on the safe side.

We haven’t really seen a major eBook retailer disappear completely yet, and while this is close, even here it’s an orderly transition to an existing market player. But this transition is worth watching even if you don’t have any ebooks through these stores; if, someday, the ebookstore of your choice gets absorbed by another company, knowing how that handoff was executed, and how to protect your content, is going to be extremely valuable.

Will you miss Fictionwise and eReader? Let us know in the comments!

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About the Author

Carly Z
Carly has been a gadget fiend for a long time, going back to her first PDA (a Palm M100). She quickly went from researching what PDA to buy to following tech news closely and keeping up with the latest and greatest stuff. She loves writing about ebooks because they combine her two favorite activities; reading anything and everything, and talking about fun new tech toys. What could be better?