Microsoft has announced it’s ending all eBook sales in the Microsoft Store for Windows PC’s as of April 2019 and will be shutting down the entire eBook store in July. Customers who have purchased eBooks from Microsoft in the past will find that all their books, including the free ones they have, will be removed from their eBook library in the first week of July 2019. Until then, Microsoft users can continue to access their eBooks through the Edge browser.
According to Microsoft’s official response, the reason behind this decision is part of a company strategy to help streamline the focus of the Microsoft Store. However, the reality is that with the eBook store running on Microsoft Edge, which only has 4.4% share of the browser market, the number of people using the store was ultimately too low to be very profitable. What’s more, with fierce competition in the market from other retailers, such as Amazon’s Kindle, Apple Books, and Google Play Books, company executives have decided to focus all the resources the eBook platform was taking up elsewhere.
Customers who have purchased or preordered eBooks from the Microsoft Store will be reimbursed with a full refund once the store has finally closed for good. According to Microsoft’s website “refund processing for eligible customers will start rolling out automatically in early July 2019 to your original payment method.” If your original payment method is no longer valid (or if you used a gift card), you’ll receive a credit back to your Microsoft account to use online at the Microsoft Store.
Microsoft will also offer an additional $25 credit (to your Microsoft account) if you annotated or marked up any eBook that you purchased from the Microsoft Store prior to April 2nd, 2019. This is designed to help compensate those customers who will now lose their notes from these books, for example if you annotated the book for an exam.
So why can Microsoft erase all its users’ books?
The answer to this question centers around the intellectual property rights of eBooks. Put simply, when you purchase an eBook from any online store you are buying the license to read the book, not the license to own it. This is because books sold on most eBook stores come loaded with digital rights management software – DRM – which makes sure the copy you are accessing has been bought and paid for properly, preventing piracy. DRM also applies in other industries, such as music and gaming to make sure everyone in the supply chain gets paid properly.
Therefore, as per the terms and conditions of every major eBook store, the books are owned by the platform itself and not the customers. This means that access to them can be taken away at moment, as is the case here. As more commodities in our lives become digitalized it is important to fully understand your rights should anything happen to the provider. Was this helpful? Let us know in the comments below.