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Sony to shut down its e-book business in the U.S., Canada

Sony Corp. has announced that it would cease to sell its e-book readers in the U.S. and Canada shortly and would shut down its online e-book store in the country by the end of March. All e-book related services will go offline by May and customers with existing accounts will be transferred to Kobo. The decision is barely surprising, but the way Sony is ditching its e-book business is a strange one to say at least.

Sony recently announced that it plans to close the Reader Store in the U.S. and Canada on March 20, 2014. Unless a customer chooses to not be included in the transfer process, Reader Store will transfer customers to Toronto, Canada-based e-book company Kobo, a popular e-book store and reading community. Sony claims that it “strongly believes” that this transition will allow customers to enjoy a continued high-quality e-reading experience.

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Sony’s customers will be able to purchase e-books from the Reader Store all the way up to March 20, 2014. Electronic books purchased on the Reader Store up until the Reader Store is closed will be included in the transfer to Kobo. In late March, Sony customers will receive an email from Reader Store with instructions on how to transfer to Kobo. In cases, when e-books purchased at Reader Store are not be available at Kobo, it is recommended to download a copy of these titles from Reader Store before April 30, 2014.

While the majority of Sony e-book readers owners may be happy with a safe transition of their book collections to Kobo, it is noteworthy that Sony not only decided to ditch the e-book reader hardware business, but also its e-book software business as well. The move to shut down the e-book reader hardware business is not surprising given the fact that the e-book readers in general are losing popularity to media tablets. However, the latter can also display electronic books. The company could continue selling its e-books to owners of its media tablets and concentrate on rare and specific literature. For some reason, the Japanese giant decided not to do that.

Kobo is one of the leading e-reading services offering more than 4-million e-books, magazines and newspapers to millions of customers in 190 countries.

KitGuru Says: The rather unexpected exit from the e-book business in the U.S. and Canada shows how badly Sony wants to cut everything that does not bring any profit now to concentrate on core businesses and return to profitability. Perhaps, Sony just could not compete against Amazon, Apple, Kobo and Kindle on the market of e-books, which is why it is destroying the business in general, not just its hardware part? If this is the case, then it means that the company had a faulty e-book business strategy under the previous management. This part is hardly surprising.

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