UK book chain Waterstones has become the latest retailer to hand over its ebook business to Rakuten’s Kobo.
Waterstones was one of the earliest sellers of ebooks in the UK, offering titles which could be read on a range of devices including Sony’s Reader.
In 2012 the firm expanded its ebook reader range by signing a deal to sell Amazon’s Kindle through its stores, although it ended the partnership last year.
Today the retailer emailed customers of its eBooks store to inform them that the service will close on June 13th.
Customers will have until then to download and save any purchased books, after that date the only way to access purchases will be to transfer them to Kobo’s platform.
An email advising customers how to do this is promised for June 14th.
Established by the Canadian bookstore chain Indigo Books and Music in February 2009, Kobo was bought by Rakuten in 2011 in a deal worth $315m.
It’s since become the largest competitor to Amazon’s Kindle platform thanks to a stream of partnerships with independent retailers and high street chains.
Waterstones’ decision to quit the ebook sector comes just weeks after the Publishers Association reported that ebook sales fell by 1.6% to £554m last year, the first fall since the body started monitoring the digital book market seven years ago.
“We are pleased to be working with Waterstones, where we can help a great print retailer by supporting their customers who also love to read digitally,” said Michael Tamblyn, CEO, Rakuten Kobo in a statement.
“We look forward to ensuring that customers who have built eBook libraries with Waterstones will be able to enjoy them in the future with Kobo.”
James Daunt, Waterstones MD added, “We are very pleased that customers of Waterstones will be able to enjoy their digital libraries through Kobo. It provides them seamless continuity, and ultimately an excellence of service we ourselves are unable to match.”
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