If you’ve been reading my ebooks since the early days (e.g., pre-Kindle), then there’s a good chance you got them through Fictionwise.com — one of the first successful ebook distributors, known for offering a wide array of genre fiction — especially individual short stories — for a very affordable price. You may have already known that they were “bought out” by Barnes and Noble a few years ago, to help support B&N’s offerings for the Nook e-reader.
Yesterday I was informed that I should backup all my own purchases and get ready for the site to close down. They have posted a FAQ page with instructions for both downloading your bookshelf to archive copies and to also automatically transfer your ebooks over to B&N’s site, for your Nook library. I recommend doing both, if you can, as I’ve heard rumors that not all ebooks convert over to the Nook bookstore — and if you don’t have a Nook, you still might want to set up an account anyway, because you CAN read Nook books on some other devices, in aps, and on computers for free. Or in case you ever buy one.
Let me say it again:
Bookshelves on fictionwise.com will be unavailable after December 21, 2012. ACT SOON.
I’ll try to keep the books page on gorelets.com updated to help fans of ebooks find my work. Not all of my titles are in ebook form (and I like that, because I think avid readers SHOULD have special and exclusive — if not collectable — versions of stories). But in the years ahead, you’ll be seeing a growing number of e-titles from me, like the re-release of my second novel, Play Dead in ebook form from Raw Dog Screaming Press in late 2013, and a project I am developing for my own line (Mastication Publications) that takes the “Instigation” section of this website to a new level.
Although the death of fictionwise.com is not a major travesty to literature — since most of the titles are really just moving over to the Nook — I’m a little saddened by this turn of events. I’m a “Kindle person” for the most part, but I liked being able to read fictionwise titles on the Kindle. But thinking more broadly, this is another sign of the volatility of the ebook publishing economy, which constantly seems to shake things up and disorient readers, while struggling to evolve into something stable. The thing I liked most about fictionwise was its short story offerings — you could easily build your own “anthology” (or mixed tape) of fiction, and find good short-shorts by your favorite authors that might have appeared in magazines and anthologies you missed. It allowed writers who had a modicum of success to self-publish, and it offered a distribution for indie publishers to sell their wares outside of the dominant agency model that circulates mass market books. I also wonder if this is a sign of the waning of interest in the short-story form. As people can buy complete novels for a mere .99 cents, it seems hard to suggest they pay that much for a short story. Fictionwise had a micropayment system that seemed to solve that issue, and provided a really good niche market to find new genre fiction outside of the mainstream, but now we’ll likely have fewer options, as the dominant corporations have more control the e-publishing economy.
On a related note, Heidi Ruby Miller recently posted a video of our talk at the Western Maryland Indie Lit Book Festival back in 2011, that reveals some of my thoughts about how e-publishing is changing the way readers find books, and how publishers need to brand their lines as a signpost for navigating the disorienting, uncharted waters of electronic books.