Sony closing Reader Store in U.S and Canada.; will offer users transfer to Kobo

In addition to selling off its VAIO PC business and laying off 5,000 workers worldwide, Sony has announced it will be closing its Reader Store in the U.S. and Canada. However, customers of that ebook storefront will be able to move their accounts to another service, Kobo.

Sony's website has a full FAQ page on the changes coming to North American Sony Reader users. The Reader Store will shut down on March 20th for new eBook purchases, but subscriptions to electronic magazines have already been halted and won't be transferred to Kobo. Sony will send an email sometime in March to Reader users that will contain full instructions on how to transfer their ebooks and accounts to Kobo. The Sony Reader software will continue to allow users access to previously purchased eBooks until April 30th.

Sony was one of the first companies to come out with a dedicated ereader product in 2006, even before Amazon released its first Kindle device. However, the rise in tablet sales has cut the demand for ereader hardware. Sony released its last such product in the U.S. in 2012, they launched a new model in 2013 but it was not made available for sale in the North American market.

Source: Sony | Image via Sony

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Many people are connecting Sony to DRM policies, but the irony is that their eReader is a model of openness. It can play virtually any form of reading file, and is ideal for those of us who use a variety of file types. It's a great choice if you want to avoid closed systems like Amazon.

The Sony eReader has been very reliable, efficient and easy to use. It has a pdf text flow feature which is unique as far as I know. I hope the hardware will still be developed.


SONY used to make gorgeous hardware (and still does, for that matter), but they lost me as a customer after the first rootkit fiasco with their audio CDs. The second time around with the rootkit on their USB flash drives only served to reinforce that this was a company with whom I should not do business.


Aryeh Goretsky

" The Sony Reader software will continue to allow users access to previously purchased eBooks until April 30th."
And after that date?....
I might be a dinosaur, if so surely a happy one, but I do not care for this "cloud frenziness": my music is either CDs or MP3 which I have stored as well as backed up locally. Ebooks? Nice idea but as long as they are locked to a specific "store" I will pass. Same for movies: I buy DVDs and even making a backup of each of them.

I agree that DRM and proprietary formats suck but in this case at least they're being decent enough to provide a way for people to transition to another service and continue having access to their purchases. There have been instances of companies shutting services down with purchasers of their DRMed media completely left out in the cold.

John Callaham said,
After that date they won't be available unless you transfer your account to Kobo

And if in 3 years, or 5 years time you find some old "Sony" ebooks, I suppose they will be totally useless and you've lost your money, and need to buy them again in some new DRM format?

I'm sure there are ways to strip the DRM from them and convert to a non-proprietary format, and perhaps even the law will be on your side if you choose to go down such a route (or at least turn a blind eye to such activities).

I have read horror stories of Amazon locking people out of there accounts for-sometimes very arbitrary-reasons. Therefore every book I buy for my Kindle gets stripped of DRM and made a .mobi for local back-up.

I used to be a Sony advocate. TV? always Sony, Radio? Sony, Record Player? Sony, Cassette Recorder? Sony, CD player? Sony, Stereo? Sony, Video Recorder? Sony. Games Console? Sony. You get the idea.

Now though. Everything's Samsung. Well, the TV is. All the rest are relics from the past I don't need and I have a 360.

Sony lost it years ago with their stubborn need to go proprietary, you would have thought they'd have learned from the Betamax debacle.

tuckeratlarge said,
Sony lost it years ago with their stubborn need to go proprietary, you would have thought they'd have learned from the Betamax debacle.

their problem is their purchase of the movie studio, and from then on their relentless push to have DRM installed on all their products (and consumers silly enough to pay for it ending up with an expensive, feature/region limited devices).

Like you I always used to buy Sony when it was innovative and usable. Once they started locking it down and hiking the prices I went elsewhere for cheaper, more usable, unlocked devices.

This story (about buying DRM media and then losing access to it) seems to be replayed over and over again. Even Microsofts "Plays for sure" DRM is no longer in existence.

Friends, what you see here is the start of a deadly spiral for a company like Sony. When a brand starts shedding this sort of weight, it creates a negative image of itself in the consumer's eye: "Do I really want to buy a product from a company that is struggling?"
It is very difficult for a company to recover from such a negative view.
It might too early to say, but if Sony does survive it will be a mere shadow of what it once was. This may even spill over into the gaming division.

Sony is DOOMed! I don't think they'll recover though, it's been going on since the beginning of this century and that's a VERY long time without any recovery whatsoever, especially with the economic crisis still going on.