A UK-based poster on the MobileRead forums, HarryT, has just shared the following email from Waterstones: “The Waterstones eBooks store is closing, but we have partnered with Kobo to ensure that you will still be able to access your library of eBook titles purchased with us. On 14th June 2016 we will send you an email with a personalised link to transfer your eBooks to Kobo.”
This is backed up by a notice on the Waterstones ebooks web page, which essentially repeats the wording of the email, and adds a Q&A about the change. This states that: “This will not affect titles you have downloaded to your devices, but we recommend completing the transfer to Kobo in June, to keep access to your eBooks for the future.” Also, however, “the vast majority of eBooks will be able to be transferred, but there may be a small number of books that Kobo will not be able to support.” Additionally, audiobooks as well as ebooks “are no longer available to buy on Waterstones.com.”
This follows Waterstones’ earlier decision to stop selling Kindles in many of its bookstores. It appears that Kobo has stepped in to take up the opportunity – although quite why Waterstones elected to handle things this way isn’t clear. Maybe it does make sense to leave an area that the company doesn’t feel comfortable in to a third party – but if even the UK’s biggest and most successful bookstore chain can’t come up with a standalone ebook strategy, you wonder what hope there is for any other platform against the Amazon/Apple/Kobo triumvirate. And giving the store away to Kobo hardly seems like Waterstones’ best way of validating all the anti-Amazon anti-Kindle snark that came out around its own moves in the past.