Barnes and Noble to open eBook store later in the year

Chicago (IL) – Barnes & Noble has purchased Fictionwise, the parent company of and, for $15.7 million. These two companies combined sell eBooks and an eBook reading device. Fictionwise is based in Chatham, N.J and began operation in June 2000. The company keeps in stock anywhere from 60,000 to 65,000 titles and has plans to add an additional 500 new titles a week.

“We bought Fictionwise because we like how they’ve approached the digital and eBook markets,” William Lynch Jr., president and CEO of Barnes& told The Wall Street Journal. “They have one of the most popular applications on the iPhone, and they really understand merchandising. They also have a lot of institutional knowledge about this space.”

Fictionwise and Kindle storefronts are much different. Fictionwise’s eReader store markets books that are free of any digital rights management protection for various devices. This allows individuals to utilize everything from their iPhones to a laptop or netbook PC. This is much different than the storefront Amazon maintains, which only allows individuals to access titles from Amazon’s Kindle device, and the iPhone as of Wednesday.

Barnes & Noble was among the first to arrive on the eBook scene in 2001, offering “The Book of Counted Sorrows” by Dean Koontz. The company halted this service in 2003 due to a lack of public interest in the format.

With the popularity of the Internet and the ability for individuals to access books and other materials on the go, interest is booming again, and Barnes & Noble has purchased their way into the market. Currently Barnes & Noble has not settled on a definite strategy for the sale of eBooks, but the company is working on it, and no exact date has been determined.