2009: Massive eBook Changes Ahead

March 5, 2009

I had a dream last night. I dreamt there were massive and sweeping changes in the field of eBooks. That everything we had known and expected had been totally and utterly changed.

Then I woke up to this news:

Fictionwise acquired by Barnes & Noble

Look at how little money it took:


Barnes & Noble Acquires Fictionwise

New York, New York – March 5, 2009 – Barnes & Noble, Inc. (NYSE: BKS), the world’s largest bookseller, announced today that it has acquired Fictionwise, a leader in the e-book marketplace, for $15.7 million in cash. Barnes & Noble said it plans to use Fictionwise as part of its overall digital strategy, which includes the launch of an e-Bookstore later this year. In addition to the closing purchase price, Fictionwise may receive earn out payments for achieving certain performance targets over the next two years.

Headquartered in New Jersey, Fictionwise was founded in 2000 by Steve and Scott Pendergrast. Barnes & Noble intends to keep Fictionwise as a separate business unit and the founders will continue to operate the business.

With a minuscule $15.7 million in cash, Barnes & Noble has just escaped the Tower Records future it was facing.

This will probably go down in business history as one of the smartest acquisitions ever.

What will happen now?

Barnes & Noble will do what Borders has never done: promote the hell out of eBooks as if their life depended on it.

I would expect the Fictionwise URL to pop up on printed receipts at Barnes & Noble stores.

I expect Barnes & Noble to offer Fictionwise/eReader Gift/Pre-pay Cards.

I expect Barnes & Noble to to finally put in eBook form all the print books they’ve published. (Why isn’t The Stones of Summer in eBook?)

Most of all: I expect Barnes & Noble to soon sell a hardware eBook reader that will have eReader built-in.

Amazon, you now have competition.

Sony, this is not a good week to be you.

Borders, your doom awaits.

Yes, big eBook changes this year.