The Bookseller reported that UK department store chain Sainsbury’s has bought out its publisher partners HarperCollins and Penguin Random House in aNobii, the book-focused social media platform originally launched by Greg Sung in Hong Kong in 2006, and has raised the 64 percent stake it bought from HMV for £1 in June 2012 to 100 percent.
The aNobii website itself is headed up by a press announcement from Italian publisher Mondadori which reads “Mondadori buys aNobii.” According to this, Mondadori has taken over “Anobii Ltd. the brand and the assets of the social reading service which has a million users around the world and over 300,000 in Italy.” In other words, Mondadori took over the front-end assets and the reading community, while Sainsbury’s and partners took on the back end as a basis for an … ahem … in-store book and ebook recommendation and purchase platform.
Sainsbury’s has apparently bought the UK arm and assets of aNobii formerly known as beta.anobii.com, which became eBooks by Sainsbury’s in early 2013, and will be using these for its own purposes within the UK. Meanwhile, Mondadori will continue to own and operate aNobii in other markets, especially Italy.
Where this leaves the original aNobii concept is a bit moot. Sainsbury’s has picked up part of its assets to produce a mini-Amazon that can do clever thinks like use Sainsbury’s reward points. Mondadori takes over what now is a smaller version of Goodreads without the retail connection. An ebook industry that continues to develop and mature along these lines could be a much duller place – as well as one bereft of serious competitors to Amazon.