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Microsoft is Closing Its eBookstore (Again)

For the third time in eight years, Microsoft is throwing in the towel on ebooks. I just got an email from MS informing me that they are shutting down the bookstore part of the Microsoft Store.

The books category is closing. Thanks for buying or downloading an ebook from Microsoft Store. Starting April 2, 2019, the books category will be closing. Unfortunately, this means you’ll no longer have access to your current ebooks as of July 2019, but you’ll get a full refund if you paid for your ebook download. See refund details below. Learn more.

Microsoft was actually one of the early ebook pioneers, but was never really able to exploit the advantages. Their MSReader format launched in the early aughts tech bubble, and was still worth buying when Microsoft killed it in 2011 (stripping the DRM and converting to Epub or Kindle was easy).

Then in 2012 Microsoft invested $300 million in B&N’s Nook spin off, Newco, essentially funding the Nook’s international expansion, only to see it go nowhere. (Microsoft pulled out of that partnership in late 2014.)

And now Microsoft is killing the ebookstore it launched to replace the Nook Store.

In fact, it has already been shut down, and the lights are going to be turned off in July. MS has already turned off the purchase option, and is in the process of cancelling all existing pre-orders.

There is some good news, though; we’re going to get refunds or credits for our purchases. Refunds will start rolling out automatically in early July 2019 to your original payment method. If your original payment method is no longer valid, MS will give you a credit for use at Microsoft Store online. Also, MS is going to compensate you for any lost annotations. If you have made any mark-ups or annotations in any of your ebooks prior to 2 April 2019 you will receive an additional $25 credit to your Microsoft account.

You can find more info in the FAQ.

On a scale of one to B&N closing down Fictionwise, this shutdown is actually rather customer-friendly.  (Do you suppose Microsoft has been invaded by lizard people again?)

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gbm April 2, 2019 um 12:26 pm

MS had an ebook store?

John Van Stry April 2, 2019 um 12:42 pm

With all of these eBook stores shutting down, Amazon is becoming more and more of a 'monopoly' by the definition of the feds. I wonder if and when they will take action?

While on the one hand, Amazon does do some things that are definitely heavy handed and hurtful to some, I’m not sure that any regulation by the US government would improve the situation.

Difficult times are ahead for all of us, I’m sure.

Bill Peschel April 2, 2019 um 12:46 pm

Wow. I say that because I hated MS’s first attempt at ebooks (I had downloaded a couple of their public domain files to test it, and its anti-piracy software kept me from opening them.)

I also say that because I didn’t know they had reopened their store. Think of it: I’ve been heavily involved in self-publishing and ebooks since 2010, and didn’t know (or had forgotten) that they were doing this.

That’s how bad they are at marketing.

Disgusting Dude April 2, 2019 um 12:52 pm

MS was getting their ebooks via Ingram instead of Overdrive.

Not many Indies in either.
There’s a message hidden in there.

Kate April 2, 2019 um 1:53 pm

B&N never did transfer my FictionWise books over.

ALWAYS back up anything you buy digitally and strip the DRM whenever possible.

Nate Hoffelder April 2, 2019 um 2:06 pm

I didn’t realize it until a month later but the only reason i got my files transferred was because of this blog.

I wish I had done more shouting on behalf of the international customers.

Mike Cane April 2, 2019 um 2:36 pm

LIT format was so pretty. It took years for eBooks to get pretty again — by Apple.

Periodic reminder that you DRM means you don't really own eBooks, movies, or other content (Microsoft's eBook store is shutting down) – Liliputing April 2, 2019 um 3:07 pm

[…] for Microsoft, I wonder if the company’s decision to exit the eBook business (again) has anything to do with the fact that Microsoft is killing its EdgeHTML rendering engine and using […]

DaveMich April 2, 2019 um 4:02 pm

I think the message here is that even ebooks is a thin-margin business, and if you don’t have scale you’re not going to transcend your fixed costs.

Rafael April 2, 2019 um 4:42 pm

Wow, with both refunds and compensation for lost annotations, I agree that this shutdown is relatively customer-friendly. In contrast, when Amazon shut down its music storage service (previously, customers could store their entire music library in Amazon’s cloud for $25 a year), longtime customers weren’t compensated or made to feel that they were appreciated in any way. I was told that Amazon would "keep" my existing music if I chose, but my access to that music became extremely limited (Alexa can’t find my songs and I can no longer download them, for example), and Amazon has never explained the limitations. I had considered the service a backup of my music library, and when Amazon removed my backup after six years I realized that I had been wasting my money and that it didn’t make sense, for me, to pay for any of Amazon’s cloud storage services. I canceled my file storage subscription and, in protest, moved my family’s music streaming subscriptions to other providers. The Fictionwise shutdown was also disappointing, but as I recall almost all of my e-books were transferred to Barnes & Noble.

Jeffrey April 27, 2019 um 7:53 pm

Funny thing is Microsoft acting good in this. My latest war with them over Office 365 they make you apply key codes after expire. I see now my father with dementia bought one for him when he saw me buy the key code. Well let just say I refuse buy office 365 after that I switching to Word Perfect. I use Lotus before used Word again. I refused use credit cards as they charge them after remove them. I remove the card once bought game system just so kid not be able buy stuff.

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[…] isn’t the first time Microsoft has launched and killed an eBook store… which makes me wonder why anyone would have bothered “buying” from the store […]

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