Gemstar unplugs e-book biz

Subsid goes offline in July as co. abandons online vision

NEW YORK — As Gemstar-TV Guide Intl. pledges money and support for its TV assets, its online book business is being edged out of the picture.

Company is significantly scaling back subsid the Gemstar eBook Group, which will terminate operations completely in July, Gemstar said Wednesday.

Gemstar’s system allows readers to download and read e-books using a portable device called a reader. Company is no longer selling readers, and on July 16 will stop selling e-content. Until that time, most titles will be discounted. Customers who have already bought books will still be able to download titles for the next three years, and unused parts of prepaid subscriptions will be refunded.

Similar to Primedia, another media company that is shedding its online assets, Pasadena-based Gemstar is walking away from its online vision in the wake of the Internet fizzle. Gemstar had aggressively courted that vision since 2000, when it acquired NuvoMedia and Softbook Press in stock deals.

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Facing investigations by the Securities and Exchange Commission and a $45 million loss in the first quarter, Gemstar is funneling money to its flagship publication, TV Guide, and settling patent disputes.