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Friday, 14 December, 2001, 16:51 GMT
E-publisher MightyWords folds
A man browsing in a bookshop
E-publishing is finding it difficult to replace traditional books
Pioneer electronic publisher MightyWords is to close in January.

Twenty-three employees will lose their jobs at the New York company, the latest in a series of e-publishing ventures to fold.


I thought electronic publishing was going to be big

Chris MacAskill
Company founder and chief executive Chris MacAskill blamed a lack of consumer demand for the decision.

"There just weren't enough sales - it's taking a long time for the consumer to adapt," he said.

MacAskill also founded Fatbrain, an e-publisher which published science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke and inspired Stephen King to launch his own e-novella, Riding The Bullet, in March 2000.

The success of Riding The Bullet in encouraging downloads led many analysts to think that e-publishing was about to become profitable.

Mass audience

But within the past month, Random House and AOL Time Warner have both announced the shutdown of their e-publishing divisions, also blaming low sales - though both companies will continue to sell e-books through their existing imprints.

So far a mass paying audience for e-publishing has yet to develop.

Stephen King
King: One of the first well-known authors to publish e-texts
And no handheld platform has proved as usable as a traditional book.

"I thought electronic publishing was going to be big," said Mr MacAskill.

"What a rude awakening I got."

MightyWords published about 30,000 titles and had sales of about 50,000 units per month, but the most downloads it achieved was for a free compilation of essays about the Bill of Rights.

Enquiries about texts being distributed by MightyWords will be referred to Barnes & Noble.com, which owns about half of the company.

Barnes & Noble.com will remain an investor in electronic texts, with its own e-book division and a distribution deal with the online publisher iUniverse.

But the company has said that it was in "the process of evaluating which content is best suited for Barnes & Noble.com customers."

See also:

01 Mar 01 | Entertainment
Scots bookworms top poll
01 Mar 01 | Entertainment
The world in your hands
09 Feb 01 | Entertainment
'Big name' authors to go online
12 Jan 01 | Entertainment
Leonard joins e-book authors
20 Jul 00 | Entertainment
Stephen King's online thriller
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