Sony Shuts Down the Reader Store (Updated)

SonyIt was fun while it lasted (the Sony Reader was my first ebook reader) – Sony is shutting down its reader store and migrating titles to Kobo. Via Publisher’s Weekly:

Sony, one of the first companies to enter the e-book market but which has fallen far behind Amazon, Apple, and Barnes & Noble, will close its e-bookstore, the Reader Store, in March and allow its American and Canadian customers to migrate their accounts to Kobo. “Our customers can be assured that they will have a seamless transition to the Kobo ecosystem and will be able to continue to access and read the titles they love from Sony devices,” said Ken Orii, v-p of Sony’s digital reading business division. Sony e-reading devices include the Sony Reader and the Xperia tablet and smartphones, although beginning last fall Sony stopped offering its Reader PRS-T3 dedicated e-reader in the U.S. to focus on tablets and smartphones.

As part of the transition, the free Kobo App for Android will be pre-loaded on select Sony Xperia smartphones and tablets. Timing and availability may vary by market and carrier. Reader Store customers will receive an e-mail from Sony with instructions on how to transfer their library to a Kobo account.

For Smashwords distributors, this just means one less distribution partner – but many Smashwords users are likely also distributing to Kobo as well. In which case, no change is necessary.

Update: More info for Smashwords users

Self-published authors using the Smashwords distribution platform have regularly opted into having their eBooks put up for sale via the Sony Reader Store. What does the transition mean for authors now that the books have moved to Kobo? Smashwords CEO Mark Coker told Good e-Reader exclusively that “The actual epub files Smashwords delivered to Sony will not transfer, but the digital identifiers will, and these identifiers (ISBNs and possibly other metadata) will allow Kobo to provide access for Sony customers in their Kobo libraries. If Kobo doesn’t have the book, then the book will not transfer. I’d encourage all authors to download all their books from Sony to their Sony Reader in addition to migrating their library to Kobo.”

Mark went on to elaborate that “The merchandising listings of Smashwords books distributed to Sony (but not distributed to Kobo) will not transfer. This means if a Smashwords author is opted in to Sony, but not opted in to Kobo, they will remain opted out of Kobo for sales and merchandising purposes. We and Kobo have been coordinating behind the scenes in advance of this announcement to identify Smashwords/Sony books that aren’t available at Kobo. We’ll continue to coordinate closely so we can work with authors to mitigate any inconvenience for Sony customers. Authors can assist by making sure all Smashwords.”

Short answer: Books distributed to Sony will disappear. If (for some reason) you distributed to Sony but not to Kobo, those Sony books will not automatically show up in the Kobo store. So those writers should opt in to Kobo now.

Read more at the Smashwords blog. Mark Coker laments,

Any time we lose a retailer of any kind – whether ebook retailer or neighborhood bricks & mortar retailer – it’s a sad day.  Book culture, and book sales opportunity for authors, is maximized by having as many booksellers as possible employing as many passionate booklovers as possible out there dedicating their every day to connecting books with readers.  The more retailers there are, the less dependent the author becomes on any one single retailer.  Diversification is good.  Concentrated risk is bad.  It would be a sad day if five years from now 95% of ebook sales consolidated around one or two retailers.  Such a state of affairs would strip indie authors of their independence and power.