Waterstones, the large UK chain of bookshops, has announced that it is to close its electronic book (eBook) store with effect from 13 June 2016.
It has already stopped selling eBooks. Existing customers are being offered a ‘free transfer’ to Kobo on 14 June. On that date, Waterstones will email all users details of their new accounts with Kobo. Waterstones accepts that “there may be a small number of books that Kobo will not be able to support” but does not provide any details of how they will deal with those. Presumably they will just be lost unless you have already downloaded them.
At the same time, Waterstones has discontinued electronic audiobooks. No provision is mentioned for any further support.
Waterstones advises all their eBook and audiobook customers to download all their available books to their ‘chosen device’ as soon as possible, to avoid potential loss of service during the transfer.
This is the second such closure in the UK over the last few months: Barnes & Noble only recently transferred their UK NOOK business to Sainsbury’s. This is another reminder that, even though we pay only slightly discounted prices for electronic as opposed to physical books, real printed books remain a much better choice in almost every case, if you wish to be able to read your books in the future.