Sony e-books go to Kobo

Sony e-books go to Kobo

While Amazon’s Kindle revolutionized the e-book market, it wasn’t the first EBR (E-Book Reader) in the USA.

There were more than ten available EBRs in 2007.

Sure, some of them were pretty specialized “geekware”, rather than having much of a commercial impact. One example would be the

ebookwise reader

which, I believe, is still available.

However, there was a big, brand name, high-profile consumer company in the game: Sony.

Yep, you can’t get much more mainstream than Sony for consumer gadgets (certainly, that was true in 2007), and they were here with EBRs.

Back in October, I wrote about Sony no longer supporting their EBRs in the USA. I mentioned that the Sony e-bookstore was still in business.

Well, now, according to this

Sony FAQ

they are also shutting down the Reader Store.

That is both good and bad news for Kindle owners.

It’s bad news because competition is good. Competition drives innovation, for one thing.

However, even when I did this comparison of Sony’s readers, the Kindle, and the nook (as it was capitalized back then) in 2009:

The prodigal Sony

it wasn’t exactly competitive. There was a “Sony tax”…just meaning that you would pay more for their devices and their content. That’s often been true for Sony, and it can make sense when it is higher quality…but that wasn’t the perceived case here.

I did a Buffy parody about the competition, which, re-reading it, has a lot of references that just aren’t going to play for most people any more. 😉

Sony, the Kindle Slayer

Still, more players means a more interesting game.

The good news?

That’s what is happening to people who use the Sony Reader Store for their books.

I have said more than once in this blog that I think it is more likely that my  descendants  will have access to my e-books than to my p-books (paperbooks).

Some people pooh-pooh that, asking what would happen if Amazon went out of business (knock virtual wood).

Well, it’s my understanding that if a format was not commercially supported, it might be legal to strip the DRM (Digital Rights Management) and still have access to the books.

I have also suggested, and here is what is significant here, that someone else would likely buy Amazon’s e-book holdings if it did go down (which I think is unlikely for some time).

That’s what is happening here.

When the Sony Reader Store closes on March 20th, its customers will be able to transfer their books to Kobo, which is a major player (even before this development).

Customers don’t have to do that: they can download the books first, if they want…but I don’t think it makes sense to give up the cloud storage for most people.

Yes, there may be rare cases where you bought a book from Sony, and Kobo doesn’t have it (one of the risks of exclusives), and that could cause a problem here.

Generally, though, people will have access to their books. They’ll also have access to their store credits…but not to their annotations.

Here’s an important point from the FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)…don’t sign up with Kobo yet, if you haven’t:

“How will the transfer to Kobo work? Do I need to do anything now?

No, there is no need to do anything now. Until the Reader Store is closed on March 20, 2014, you can continue to shop at the Reader Store and use your Reader device. In late March, you’ll receive an email from Reader Store with instructions on how to transfer to Kobo.

Why should I wait until late March to sign up with Kobo?

As part of the transfer process, we will send you a link to enable you to transfer your Reader Store library and any Reader Store account credits to a Kobo account. If you do not use this link, your library transfer will not work.”

This is also important:

“Can I use my Reader from Sony to buy eBooks directly from Kobo?

In late March, we will release an update to the Reader for PC/Mac® software that will enable you to directly connect to the Kobo Store for future purchases. You can use the software then to also transfer the titles via USB to any of your Reader models from Sony .

In late May 2014, Kobo will launch a version of its eBook Store that you will be able to access directly from your Wi-Fi Reader (PRS-T1, PRS-T2, and PRS-T3) from Sony .

The Reader PRS-900 and PRS-950 devices will no longer have direct access to an eBook store after Reader Store closes. However, any eBooks purchased from Kobo can still be loaded onto your device via USB transfer.”

Bottom line is that it isn’t going to be a disaster for most people…but it will be inconvenient, and difficult for some.

This should boost Kobo somewhat, which is also good for Kindle users. With the Nook travails, Kobo may be Amazon’s main non-tablet competitor in the next few years. Again, a strong competitor is good for us…

Even though Sony exiting e-books is not unexpected, I’ll admit to a bit of sadness. I’m glad that there is a reasonable transition plan in place, but I’m not sure why I feel some loss. I suppose that’s also been true for me when bookstores close, even when they were ones I didn’t use.

What do you think? Were/are you a Sony reader user? If so, how do you feel about the switch to Kobo? Will you go? What was your favorite part about the Sony? Why didn’t Sony stay in the market? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Special thanks my reader, Edward Foster, who mentioned this development in a comment. I always appreciate a heads-up like that, even if I’ve seen the story elsewhere or need to do more research before I write about it.

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This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

2 Responses to “Sony e-books go to Kobo”

  1. Tom Semple Says:

    Note that at this point the transfer only involves Reader Store in US and Canada. Not Europe & Japan, at least not yet. Might be some regulatory process that prevents a quicker transition, it seems unlikely that Sony & Kobo would want to remain competitors in the long term.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Tom!

      Good point (as always). Kobo does serve Europe, and I believe it is owned Japanese company (at least, I think part of it is). However, I’m not sure that Sony won’t stick with e-books in Japan at least. The market is quite different there. We’ll see what happens…

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