If you got ebooks or audiobooks through Shelfie’s print-digital bundling service, you should download them right away and transfer them to another app.
Shelfie has announced, both on its site and in an email to users, that it is turning off its servers.
We regret to inform you that Shelfie will be ceasing operations on January 31, 2017. What this means for Shelfie users:
- Our servers will be shutting down on January 31. You can re-download any DRM-free books between now and then.
- You no longer have access to DRM (.acsm) books.
- Your app will cease to function in a meaningful way on January 31.
We started Shelfie with the idea of connecting books and readers and we have worked hard over the past four years to make that a reality. We are grateful for the support we have received from amazing readers like you, who have been a part of Shelfie.
The Shelfie Team
The email went out around 7pm eastern time on 30 January, meaning that users will barely have a day to rescue their purchases.
Launched in 2013, Shelfie (or as it was known then, Bitlit) was based on a simple idea. Download its app, take a photo of the print books on your shelves, and it would tell you which titles had matching ebooks you could download for free or at a low cost.
Amazon has a similar service called Kindle Matchbook, which also launched in 2013. And technical publisher O’Reilly has offered a similar bundle option for years, albeit only for titles sold through its website.
Shelfie was unique in that it was built to be platform independent and work with any participating publisher. Shelfie offered both DRM-free and DRMed ebooks, and in 2015 it added audiobooks.
Shelfie signed over a hundred publishers to offer their titles through its platform, and it also worked with indie bookstores. Participating bookstores found that they could almost double their sales by promoting a book as having an optional bundle through Shelfie.
There’s no public mention of why the service is closing, but Shelfie founder Peter Hudson told me by email that “In the end the unit economics of ebook sales just don’t make much sense if you don’t own the platform like Apple, Google, or Amazon.”
Basically, Shelfie died for the same reason Entitle died, or why Readmill sold out to Dropbox. They simply could not sustain themselves on the crumbs left by the major ebook platforms.
When asked whether he had plans to revive the platform later, or sell off the tech, Peter told me that “We’ll see where the tech ends up. It’s pretty cool and we still own all the patents. We’ve had a few people express interest.”
Thanks, Brad, for the tip!