Tesco has announced this morning that it will be shutting down Blinkbox Books, one of its digital subs. Apparently the rumored deal to sell it to Waterstones has fallen through, leaving Tesco few options other than to close the store:
We have taken the decision to close our e-book service blinkbox Books. We’ve learnt a lot since launching the service and whilst we saw encouraging levels of take up, we believe that we can do more for our customers by focusing on our core business. The service will close by the end of February.
Tesco has been having financial issues for about 6 months now, and as part of its cost-cutting measures it has decided to get rid of its money-losing digital sub, Blinkbox.
Blinkbox Movies was sold off earlier this month, and there is a rumor that a buyer has stepped forward for Blinkbox Music (edit: it's been sold to Guvera). And a couple weeks ago rumors circulated that Blinkbox Books would have a similar fate. Unfortunately for its customers, that didn't happen.
Tesco had been working to build an ebookstore since 2012, when it bought the whitelabel ebookstore provider MobCast for £4.5 million. After sinking what had to have been millions of pounds into the company, Tesco then launched Blinkbox Books in March 2014.
And now, less than a year later, it's being shuttered.
I'm still looking for info on how consumers are going to cope with losing access to their ebooks. I can see in the FAQ that the ebooks are locked inside the Blinkbox apps, so downloading an ebook to Adobe DE is out, but at this point we don't know whether Tesco will be doing anything to compensate readers or help them move their content to another platform.
It's a shame Tesco couldn't work out a deal to sell its customer lists to another retailer. Sony arranged a similar deal with Kobo when it got out of the ebook market in 2014 - certainly a better option than simply walking away.