May 9, 2014

Sony readers move to Kobo in the UK, Germany, Austria, and Australia




Sony is slipping out of the ereading market. Readers in the UK, Germany, Austria, and Australia will find their Sony accounts switching over to the Kobo bookstore on June 16.

As we wrote earlier this year, Sony is moving away from the ereader and focusing its energy on the tablet. The company shut down its reader store in the U.S. and Canada in March, giving the business to Kobo in its place. Sony plans let go of 5,000 employees by the end of the financial year.

The Sony reader store put up a good fight against Amazon in the UK, putting many books on sale for 20p from July 2012 until March 2013. Amazon was under pressure to drop its prices to match Sony, and for a while they went back and forth, Sony giving more titles promotional prices, and Amazon rushing to match. When both companies finally brought prices back to “normal,” the prices at Sony were noticeably higher than Amazon. It didn’t shift all pricing in the UK, as Futurebook warned it might.

If you’re in one of those four countries and you have credit with Sony you’d like to use, you’re supposed to transfer everything over to the Kobo store by May 31. Sony will email instructions for the transfer to all of its customers. Notes and highlighting will be lost in the transfer, as will wishlists.

“We suggest that you download your ebooks from Reader Store prior to 16 June 2014,” Sony said its FAQ. “In some cases, the ebook you have previously purchased may not be available at Kobo and will not be included in the transfer.”

Sony was one of the first companies to break into the ereader market, but it’s dropping out of the ereader game. The Kindle, the Kobo ereader, and the Nook will have to fight this battle to its slow end. The Kobo app will be pre-loaded on Sony smartphones and tablets in weeks to come.

We imagine Jeff Bezos may be boiling down a few first-generation Sony ereaders this week, fashioning himself a pair of swords. But I’m afraid to take the Game of Thrones references any further until George R.R. Martin finishes writing the series, because it’s too ugly to imagine who wins. RIP, Sony eReader.


Kirsten Reach is an editor at Melville House.