Barnes & Noble.com announced today it has stopped selling ebooks, citing weak sales as its reason for the change.
“We did not see sales take off as we and many others had anticipated,” Daniel Blackman, vice president and general manager of BN.com, told the Associated Press.
No one seems to be taking this announcement to mean that the ebook format is about to die, though. The Motley Fool showed strong surprise at BN.com’s move and it expressed support for the future of ebooks in general.
Though Barnes & Noble.com was founded by Barnes & Noble, it is now a separate, publicly-traded company. However, its founder is still its largest shareholder. For example, The Motley Fool aired what it characterized as a conspiracy theory, that Barnes & Noble has a vested interest in books on paper and doesn’t want ebooks to succeed.
The ebook format definitely had a rocky start and hasn’t yet taken a significant bite out of sales of traditional books. But software for displaying ebooks has improved significantly from the early days and good ebook readers are available for both Palm OS and Pocket PC.
BN.com is sending an email to its ebook customers warning them that they have a limited time to download any titles they have purchased. Microsoft Reader users will be able to download their ebooks for the next 90 days through their Microsoft Library. Adobe eBook customers have 90 days from the date of purchase to complete the download. After December 9, 2003, ebook titles that have been purchased but not downloaded will no longer be accessible.
Thanks to Willa for the tip.