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Barnes & Noble, Kobo Have Shut Down Their HTML5 Reading Apps

2776410802_28e00a715b_oIn 2011 browser-based HTML5 reading apps were hailed as a rebuff to Apple’s demand for a vig. Everyone from Kobo to Nook to Kindle were releasing their own app, and there were even a couple independent platforms like Bookish. The ebook market was showing every sign of going for web apps over native apps, but as the years passed the momentum swung the other way.

First Ibis Reader and then Booki.sh were acquired and shutdown, and now both Kobo and Barnes & Noble have quietly retired their web apps.

Over the weekend a reader tipped me to the news that Kobo had quietly removed the install option for Kobo Instant Reader. Launched in 2012, this app was one of the better HTML5 reading apps (I seriously couldn’t tell that it wasn’t the iPad app). You could use it to read ebooks offline, and even buy the ebooks in the app.

Alas, the great experience wasn’t enough to keep the app around. It is now gone, and Kobo is not responding to queries on the topic.

While we don’t know why Kobo abandoned their app, we do know a little more about B&N’s Nook for Web.  That app was lost in last year’s botched relaunch of the B&N website. Barnes & Noble did not bring the app from the old site to the new one, and I can understand why.

Launched in July 2012, Nook for Web was never fully developed. It was a frankly shitty app which did not work offline, could not remember to keep you logged in, and didn’t support all browsers or even most mobile devices.

Its demise went unremarked but not unnoticed. With the B&N website working about as well as a one-legged man in a butt- kicking contest, the death of that web app was relatively unimportant. (Plus there was the chance that B&N might fix the app, or replace it.)

But with Kobo having dropped their app as well, it was worth noting that B&N had passively let Nook for Web die. It’s gone now, and that leaves just Amazon, Google, and OverDrive (they bought Booki.sh) with web reading apps.

image by Ultra

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Comments


Chris Meadows 20 April, 2016 um 12:20 pm

I did happen to notice that B&N didn’t have any web-based reader when I was going through the thing with my missing A Fire Upon the Deep novel a few weeks back, but I just figured that it was part and parcel with their decision not to let people download e-books anymore.

Nate Hoffelder 20 April, 2016 um 12:46 pm

The weird thing is the page is still there and can be found through search engines.


Mark 20 April, 2016 um 2:07 pm

So, is B&N’s windows 10 app the only PC reader left?

Nate Hoffelder 20 April, 2016 um 2:32 pm

Yes.

Frank 22 April, 2016 um 10:07 am

Not B&N, but Amazon still has its HTML5 reader: https://read.amazon.com/ and it has a PC app.


Sean 20 April, 2016 um 2:24 pm

I think Rakuten owns Kobo and they recently bought OverDrive. That might have something to do with Kobo dropping their app?

Nate Hoffelder 20 April, 2016 um 2:40 pm

The two companies are separate, serve different markets, and the platforms are incompatible.

It would cost less and make more sense for both companies to keep its cloud ebook app.


Kobo nimmt Browser-App vom Netz » lesen.net 21 April, 2016 um 8:37 am

[…] Der teuren Entwicklung und Wartung von HTML5-Apps scheint allerdings grundsätzlich wenig Interesse bei der Leserschaft entgegenzustehen. Die Nook-Plattform der US-amerikanischen Buchhandelskette Barnes & Noble hat ihren Cloud-Reader im Zuge eines Relaunches stillschweigend vom Netz genommen, und nun ging auch Kobo mit seiner HTML5-App offline, wie zuerst das Fachblog The Digital Reader berichtete. […]


Tom Semple 22 April, 2016 um 1:17 am

And Google’s is the only HTML5 reader that supports BYOeB. But not so great with mobile browsers, won’t even run in Chrome for iOS! It used to work (badly) on the Kindle experimental web browser…I always thought that was a lost opportunity: Kobo/Google/B&N could have made a Fire+Kindle friendly web reader.

I see read.amazon.com supports IE10+ now. As well as (forever) iOS Safari.

Nate Hoffelder 22 April, 2016 um 3:41 am

Google’s isn’t really BYoeB. There’s no way to get it out again afterward.


Barnes & Noble, Kobo shut down their web e-reading apps – TeleRead News: E-books, publishing, tech and beyond 22 April, 2016 um 4:14 am

[…] I didn’t think any more of it than that at the time—just another brick in the wall of how Barnes & Noble was failing at e-books—but Nate Hoffelder at The Digital Reader suggests it might be part of a larger trend. It turns out that both Barnes & Noble and Kobo have shut down their HTML5 e-reader apps. […]


Barnes & Noble, Kobo shut down their web e-reading apps – Teknoids News 22 April, 2016 um 8:06 am

[…] I didn’t think any more of it than that at the time—just another brick in the wall of how Barnes & Noble was failing at e-books—but Nate Hoffelder at The Digital Reader suggests it might be part of a larger trend. It turns out that both Barnes & Noble and Kobo have shut down their HTML5 e-reader apps. […]


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