October 1-15, 2005 Edition

Barnes & Noble

To Halt Sales

Of e-Books

NEW YORK, NY/9/27/05—Barnes & Noble earlier this month posted a statement on its site that it will no longer sell eBooks. Customers have until December 9 to access downloads purchased from the bookstore chain and downloaded via their Microsoft eBook readers. Customers using Adobe Reader will have 90 days to access any outstanding purchases.

Thousands of eBooks are no longer available on the site, and company executives have not yet made any statement about the move.

The excitement surrounding ebooks in early 2000 has turned to disappointment on both the sales and consumer side. Many observers say the technology to access ebooks is simply not there. The Barnes & Noble decision is viewed as a significant setback for Microsoft and Adobe Systems which provide the technology for digital books.

Barnes & Noble had agreed with Microsoft in January 2000 to build an eBook store which would feature titles that could be viewed on the Microsoft eReader. The chain also said it would aggressively market the reader through its stores.

Microsoft is heavily invested in digital book designs, and software and hardware for new portable platforms such as the PocketPC and TabletPC. The installed base of eReader programs in consumers’ hands is estimated at about 7 million.

Microsoft apparently plans to continue developing the products.

Adobe also signed an e-book distribution contract with Barnes & Noble in 2000 for its Adobe PDF format.

No sales figures were given for eBooks by any of the parties.