Although the Sony Reader for electronic books never seemed to capture consumers imagination, there’s no denying the Amazon Kindle—and the Kindle application now available for the iPhone—has lit a fire under the electronic book business. So, its not surprise bookseller Barnes & Noble is looking to get in on the act: today the company announced it has sealed a deal to acquire ebook publisher Fictionwise for $15.7 million in cash. Barnes & Noble plans to use Fictionwise to jumpstart its own digital bookselling strategy, which includes the launch of its own online electronic bookstore by the end of 2009. Fictionwise may earn some additional money for the acquisition over the next two years if the operation meets performance targets.
Fictionwise will also continue to run as a separate business within Barnes & Noble as a separate business, and both the Fictionwise main site and eReader.com will keep running—in fact, Fictionwise expects the acquisition will mean significant improvements to Fictionwise’s existing sites as well as an expansion of eBook content. Fictionwise titles are generally available in secure Microsoft Reader, Adobe Acrobat, and several other formats, including the eReader format that works on PalmOS, Windows Mobile, and Symbian smartphones, as well as the Apple iPhone/iPod touch and both Windows and Macintosh PCs.