Fictionwise sent out an email today to their publishing partners. I've embedded the email at the end of this post, but the tl;dr version is that the site will cease operations on the first Tuesday in December.
But that's not all.
Fictionwise is going to shut down all of the sites they own, and that includes ebookwise.com (already defunct), libwise.com (ditto), and most importantly eReader.com is also going to be shut down.
eReader is the last surviving member of the early trinity of ebook formats. Along with Mobipocket and MSReader, it dominated the ebook market up until the launch of the Kindle in 2007, not so much because it was a good format but because it had decent support for a wide variety of PDAs. It was in fact the first ebook format to work on the PalmPilot (aside from text files). That was in 1998, a time when being into ebooks meant you were a hardcore techie.
And when eReader goes kaput it will mark the end of an era. Mobipocket died in 2011, and MSReader died this year. Curiously enough, 2 of these 3 early pioneers ended up getting killed by the bigger, stronger successors which bought and supplanted them. Mobipocket was sold to Amazon in 2005 and smothered 6 years later; eReader passed into the hands of B&N in early 2009, who is killing it this year.
But enough with the melancholy; let's come back to the present.
The sites are shutting down in 3 weeks, and after that date you will not be able to access any of the ebooks you bought there. Now would be a good time to go download any ebooks you still can.
That won't be very many titles for me; I bought mainly MSReader ebooks when I could not avoid the DRM, and I bought DRM-free ebooks when I could. And since the MSReader servers were shut down some months back I couldn't download those ebooks even if I wanted to.
Go download anything you bought at Fictionwise or eReader.com. Do it now so you can make sure that you can strip the DRM and convert the ebooks to a format which will still be around in January.
Here's the email:
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 Fictionwise.com, eReader.com and eBookwise.com. Over the past few years there has been a significant decrease in demand for many of the eBook formats that Fictionwise.com 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 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.
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 BN.com and would like to do so, please visit www.pubit.com.
We greatly appreciate your support of Fictionwise over the years. Together, we pioneered eBooks and eReading.
Daniel Jorissen and The Fictionwise Team