Shelfie to Shutdown on 31 January – Download Your eBooks NOW

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 to Shutdown on 31 January - Download Your eBooks NOW Bundles Retail

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.

Keep reading,
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!

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: He's here to chew bubble gum and fix broken websites, and he is all out of bubble gum. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills at the drop of a hat. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.

22 Comments

  1. […] Shelfie founder Peter Hudson tells The Digital Reader that the service is shutting down because “in the end the unit economics of eBook sales just […]

    Reply
  2. Chris Meadows31 January, 2017

    Same reason Baen did a deal with Amazon, too.

    Reply
  3. Robert Spencer1 February, 2017

    When I first got the app I enthusiastically scanned a large selection of my library. Getting more and more disillusioned as I went along. I finally got one book out of it.

    Most of the rest of the hits where for O’Reilly books I already knew I could get discounted ebooks of straight from O’Reilly. The remainder where mis-identified books that I never could get them to identify correctly.

    As a result the app was largely ignored (I kept hoping it might one day improve, so didn’t delete it).

    Unless I’m the exception with my experience, that’s going to snowball and eventually kill your business. Which apparently it did.

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder1 February, 2017

      Amazon’s program is about as useless.

      Reply
  4. […] Shelfie to Shutdown on 31 January – Download Your eBooks NOW | The Digital Reader […]

    Reply
  5. Castiron5 February, 2017

    Three days after they’ve theoretically shut down, I’ve received an email from them encouraging me to log in and check out the latest features in the app. Looks like someone forgot to turn off the email list….

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder5 February, 2017

      I guess they fired whoever was responsible for that before he could get to it.

      Reply
  6. […] Title: Shelfie to Shutdown on 31 January – Download Your eBooks NOW […]

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  7. […] Shelfie to Shutdown on 31 January – Download Your eBooks NOW | The Digital Reader […]

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  8. Kobo has acquired Shelfie, an app that allows readers to buy discounted eBooks | completenews9 April, 2017

    […] to buy cheap eBook editions of books that had been purchased through the site. In January, Shelfie shut down, because “unit economics of ebook sales just don’t make much sense if you don’t own […]

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  9. Kobo has acquired Shelfie, an app that allows readers to buy discounted eBooks | newstrending9 April, 2017

    […] to buy cheap eBook editions of books that had been purchased through the site. In January, Shelfie shut down, because “unit economics of ebook sales just don’t make much sense if you don’t own […]

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  10. […] to buy cheap eBook editions of books that had been purchased through the site. In January, Shelfie shut down, because “unit economics of ebook sales just don’t make much sense if you don’t own […]

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  11. Kobo has acquired Shelfie, an app that allows readers to buy discounted eBooks | Beautycribtv.xyz9 April, 2017

    […] to buy cheap eBook editions of books that had been purchased through the site. In January, Shelfie shut down, because “unit economics of ebook sales just don’t make much sense if you don’t own […]

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  12. […] to buy cheap eBook editions of books that had been purchased through the site. In January, Shelfie shut down, because “unit economics of ebook sales just don’t make much sense if you don’t own […]

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  13. […] to buy cheap eBook editions of books that had been purchased through the site. In January, Shelfie shut down, because “unit economics of ebook sales just don’t make much sense if you don’t own […]

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  14. […] to buy cheap eBook editions of books that had been purchased through the site. In January, Shelfie shut down, because “unit economics of ebook sales just don’t make much sense if you don’t […]

    Reply
  15. […] to buy cheap eBook editions of books that had been purchased through the site. In January, Shelfie shut down, because “unit economics of ebook sales just don’t make much sense if you don’t own […]

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  16. […] to buy cheap eBook editions of books that had been purchased through the site. In January, Shelfie shut down, because “unit economics of ebook sales just don’t make much sense if you don’t own […]

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  17. […] to buy cheap eBook editions of books that had been purchased through the site. In January, Shelfie shut down, because “unit economics of ebook sales just don’t make much sense if you don’t own […]

    Reply
  18. […] to buy cheap ebook editions of books that had been purchased through the site. In January, Shelfie shut down, because “unit economics of ebook sales just don’t make much sense if you don’t own […]

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  19. […] Title: Shelfie to Shutdown on 31 January – Download Your eBooks NOW […]

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