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Sainsbury’s Shuts Down Its eBookstore, Hands Customers to Kobo

27619740735_4e3890dfd6_hRemember back in March when B&N got out of the UK ebook market and surprised us all by handing its customers to Sainsbury’s rather than Kobo?

It turns out that B&N could have saved everyone the aggravation, because Sainsbury’s just got out of ebooks and handed its customers to Kobo.

Kobo posted the news on their blog:

Rakuten Kobo, a global digital reading company created by booklovers for booklovers, is working with Sainsbury’s Entertainment on Demand (part of Sainsbury’s, one of the UK’s leading food and non-food retailers), to offer Sainsbury’s customers the opportunity to transfer their eBook libraries to Kobo’s eReading service as Sainsbury’s exits the digital entertainment business.

Both companies will ensure Sainsbury’s customers have a seamless transfer of the current digital libraries of books they’ve purchased, and will have the ability to continue buying eBooks from the millions of titles available on

That’s a pity, but not entirely unexpected.

It’s not just that Kobo arranged similar deals with Tesco and Sony, but also that Sainsbury’s has only a negligible share of the UK ebook market.

There was a time when we thought Sainsbury’s might be a contender in the UK ebook market, but that was several years ago. the retailer first got into ebooks when it bought a controlling interest in the Anobii ebook community in 2012. That effort was rebranded as "eBooks by Sainsbury’s" in 2013, but in spite of several sales promotions in 2013 and 2014 its market share never amounted to much.

Amazon dominates the UK ebook market to an even greater degree than they do in the US. This is why everyone except for Kobo, Apple, and Google got out of the market.

So yes, today’s news was entirely expected.

image by Peter Glyn


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Irish Imbas September 20, 2016 um 4:21 pm

Sony, Flipkart, Tesco, Sainsburys.
Poor old Kobo. Their key function seems, increasingly, to pick up the scraps from failed ebookstore ventures. One wonders if/when B+N’s Nook will approach them.

Nate Hoffelder September 20, 2016 um 4:38 pm

I wrote that post already, and if it’s still unpublished come 1 April I plan to use it as a joke.

Chris Meadows September 21, 2016 um 12:56 pm

I don’t know as I’d say "poor" Kobo. After all, they seem to have figured out how to stay in business whereas nearly every other would-be competitor to Amazon has either flamed out or fizzled, and the biggest one that’s left doesn’t seem long for this world. They’ve made a business model out of coming along and cleaning up the leftovers when that happens.

I’d be more inclined to say they’re pretty clever insofar as that goes.

Ian October 27, 2016 um 3:06 am

B&N’s Nook doesn’t exist – it’s Sainsbury’s Nook now… Well, it was. It just became Kobo’s Nook

Nate Hoffelder October 27, 2016 um 7:06 am

I don’t know that you can call it Kobo’s Nook – not unless Kobo adds some type of integration.

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