In order to broaden its offerings beyond its base in science fiction and fantasy, the e-book publisher and retailing site has signed its first distribution deals. Under the two agreements, e-books from LiveREADS and ElectricStory can now be downloaded directly from the Web site.

Stephen Pendergrast, cofounder of Fictionwise, said the company has started a distribution service as a way to leverage its technical infrastructure in a way an affiliates program cannot. "We have a sophisticated marketing and sales system, as well as a tracking service, that can't be used if we send a customer to a different site," Pendergrast noted. The distribution deals are also a quick way for the company to expand its offerings. "Our customers are telling us they want more choices, more genres, so that's what we intend to give them," Pendergrast said, adding that Fictionwise will soon start releasing a limited number of nonfiction titles. In addition, the company is close to signing distribution deals with a travel book publisher and a business book publisher. "Both [subjects] are perfect for the PDA market and complement our offerings," Pendergrast said.

Also in late April, Fictionwise signed its first wireless deal, with Versaly Games, a Seattle-based publisher and distributor of interactive games to mobile phones. Versaly subscribers will receive a selected number of short stories, and customers will also have access to Fictionwise's entire backlist. The e-books can be read with Microsoft Reader on a large, full-color mobile phone screen and will be distributed over the global 3G wireless telecommunications network.

Pendergrast said April was Fictionwise's best month ever; the company, founded in June 2000 (E-publishing, Mar. 5), ended the month with a registered customer base of 16,000. Pendergrast told PW he expects the company to become profitable by this year's fourth quarter.