Two years after it was launched, the Frankfurt eBook Award, a symbol of the optimism and celebration that surrounded e-books as recently as 18 months ago, has been discontinued. The International eBook Award Foundation's board—a group that included former Random House executive Alberto Vitale—which oversaw the awards, has resigned.

Vitale pointed to economic conditions as the reason for the awards' demise. He said the fact that the "e-book market hasn't developed as fast as we would have hoped" was merely a secondary factor. The main reason was that Microsoft and the other sponsors had a hard time justifying the costs in today's economy. The group had sought other sponsors, but Vitale said, "everyone's in the same boat."

Vitale said that while he thought the awards would continue for another few years, he's not disappointed by their end. "We jump-started the e-book business worldwide. It has all gotten the publishing community to pay attention to digitizing their frontlist and backlist and be ready for the time when e-books will become a business," Vitale maintained.