Barnes & Noble Inc, the world's largest bookseller, said it acquired e-book seller Fictionwise for $15.7 million in cash, to expand its presence in digital world.

Fictionwise may also receive earn out payments for achieving certain performance targets over the next two years, the Fortune 500 company that operates 799 bookstores in 50 states said in a statement.

After the deal, Barnes & Noble, which plans to launch an e-Bookstore later this year, intends to keep Fictionwise as a separate business unit and founders, Steve and Scott Pendergrast, will continue to operate the business.

Shares of Barnes & Noble closed at $16.70 Wednesday on the New York Stock Exchange.

(Reporting by Poojya Trivedi in Bangalore; Editing by Amitha Rajan)