Microsoft is Closing Its Ebook Store, Edge Support

Posted on April 2, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Cloud, iOS, Mobile, Windows 10 with 72 Comments

Microsoft Edge for iOS Now Supports EBooks

I guess the only surprise here is when this would happen. But Microsoft is indeed shutting down the ebook functionality in its Edge web browser and in the Microsoft Store.

“The books category is closing,” a Microsoft email to ebook customers reads. “Thanks for buying or downloading an ebook from the Microsoft Store. Starting April 2, 2019, the books category will be closing. Unfortunately, this means you will no longer have access to your current ebooks as of July 2019, but you’ll get a full refund if you paid for your ebook download.”

You can learn more about this inevitable move from the Microsoft Support website, which notes that you can no longer buy, rent or pre-order books. You can, however, continue to use Microsoft Edge to read books you’ve acquired until early July 2019. Checking the Microsoft Store in Windows 10, I can see that the Books category is indeed missing in action.

Those foolish few who did buy ebooks from Microsoft can get a refund for their purchases.

“Refund processing for eligible customers start rolling out automatically in early July 2019 to your original payment method,” the firm explains. “If your original payment method is no longer valid and on file with us, you will receive a credit back to your Microsoft account for use online in Microsoft Store.” If you purchased a book with a gift card, you’ll get a credit to your Microsoft account.

Finally, those even fewer who actually made annotations in their ebooks will get an additional $25 credit to their Microsoft account. You need to have made annotations prior to today, sorry.

Microsoft added ebook and EPUB support to Edge in the Creators Update in early 2017. It then added the same support to Edge mobile about a year later. For some reason.

Tagged with ,

Join the discussion!


Don't have a login but want to join the conversation? Become a Thurrott Premium or Basic User to participate

Comments (72)

72 responses to “Microsoft is Closing Its Ebook Store, Edge Support”

  1. yoshi

    At least they are offering refunds. I wonder if they will do the same when they shut down Movies & TV.

    The only digital purchases from Microsoft that consumers should purchase are Xbox/PC games.

    • Yaggs

      In reply to yoshi: Hopefully if they do that they keep the movies anywhere stuff in place... or find some way to transfer your licenses to another service.

    • rmlounsbury

      In reply to yoshi:

      I would think that so long as XBOX is a Microsoft property they will probably keep the TV & Movie services/sales around. It makes sense to have something like this paired with XBOX. Where as the whole eBook deal never made much sense in anyway.

      I'd anticipate that Microsoft continues to shutter consumer services outside of the XBOX Game/Movie/TV stuff.

      • yoshi

        In reply to rmlounsbury:

        It does, but then again so did music and we know how that turned out. But I get your point, movies definitely does make more sense compared to music. I have bought a few movies from MS, so I would hate to lose them if they got pulled from Movies Anywhere as well.

  2. toshdellapenna

    What I don't understand is why you'll lose the ability to continue reading already purchased material. Shouldn't you be able to download your purchases and continue reading them or are they in some propriety format that only edge can read?

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to toshdellapenna:

      Speculation: MSFT is scrapping arrangements it had with publishers to retail licenses to content. Not unreasonable to assume MSFT has lost money on those arrangements and is no longer willing to lose even more money. Since MSFT is no longer willing to enforce those content licenses for the benefit of the licensee publishers/copyright holders, your license ends.

      To be precise, you only bought a license, not a book. If that wasn't clear, it's unlikely the publishers were to blame.

  3. rm

    If they were serious about ebooks, they would have created an ebook reader app instead of trying to stimulate Edge usage with this weird tie-in with ebooks. If they had done that and did some marketing of the ebook reader app, they would have had a chance. Now in classic Microsoft fashion, they are getting rid of the tie-in just when Edge is getting updated so that people might want it. They seem to have no plan sometimes.

    • skane2600

      In reply to RM:

      I agree. Microsoft's leveraging schemes almost always come back to bite them. Combining mobile and desktop Windows RT/Windows 8 is the quintessential example.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to RM:

      . . . They seem to have no plan sometimes.

      Unless the plan is throw anything & everything against the wall to see what sticks. Apparently eBooks in Edge didn't stick.

      When it comes to consumer-focused retail, MSFT has outstanding software engineers who know as much about retail as they know about veterinary surgery, and they're unwilling to pay to bring on anyone who does understand retail.

  4. mattemt294

    I don't think he was necessarily insulting the readers. I think he was saying Microsoft makes fools out of their customers.

    I've bought a small handful of books from Microsoft because I enjoyed reading them on my surface go and note 9 in edge. It was convenient. Now that Microsoft killed off books, music, watch, phone and a variety of other services I'm seriously considering going back to Apple. Clearly it's a slow but steady March from the consumer market.

  5. Chris Payne

    Oh man... I just can't... this makes me so upset. Not because I actually used their ebook platform (who did?), but because everyone knew this was a lost cause and MS poured a ton of energy into building, supporting, and marketing this thing. For what? How is it possible that MS could make such a wrong-headed move by even building this in the first place? It's so frustrating and just another example of how MS is wandering blindly. Spend your resources where it matters Microsoft!!

    • Stooks

      In reply to unkinected:

      But Microsoft never poured a ton of energy into building, supporting and marketing this thing. There was not even a dedicated app. When did you EVER see this advertised or even spoken about after it initially launched.

      They sold book content out of their store and modified the old Edge to support it. No one used it they shut it down.

  6. Winner

    People talk about Google killing things, but it seems to be widespread in the industry.

    Lesson: Don't buy into things that are unproven or not industry-near leaders. Unless you are willing to risk your investment.

  7. waethorn

    This just in: Microsoft Health Dashboard is also dead.

    (just got an email)

  8. ponsaelius

    When Microsoft gave up on mobile and a consumer ecosystem then these decisions were certainly probable. I don't say inevitable because they have this "Microsoft Modern Life" (or something along those lines) that seems to be a play for a the pro-sumer that may have some business logic. I don't think so because the strongest advocates of Microsoft in the consumer space had Windowsphones, a band, Groove and much more. They now have Iphones, Android and Spotify. There is no going back to a consumer friendly space for Microsoft without huge investment and re-casting it's image. That isn't going to happen.

    The end of e-books is part of this.

  9. carlmess

    The other message is clear too: Give chance to the smaller dedicated providers instead of the bigger ones, use Spotify, Fitbit and the like instead. To them, their smaller bussinesses are crucial and is their main business line so they won't be closing just because the dindn't make billions...

  10. randallcorn

    Maybe they should sell the rights off to someone who can continue to support ebooks that people bought in good faith that they would still be able to access them? yeah right

  11. train_wreck

    So you’re calling people who bought books through this service “fools”?

    (btw, this is just another example of how DRM screws consumers.)

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to train_wreck:

      Unless you buy a physical object, you only buy a license to use/consume content. It should be clear by now that such licenses aren't perpetual in a practical sense.

      • train_wreck

        In reply to hrlngrv:

        Yes, that’s how consumers get screwed.

        • robincapper

          In reply to train_wreck:

          Had a good scrap with Microsoft over music purchased when they closed the store. You were supposed to be able to download but some albums (had purchased album not tracks) had individual tracks missing. Microsoft tried to claim the artist had withdrawn the rights but could prove that wasn't the case as knew the artist! In the end they issued a credit sufficient for the content I could not download. Why I still buy silver spinning discs for content I really care about and want to 'own'.

          • train_wreck

            In reply to robincapper:

            Yeah Im right there with you. I’ve seen far too many instances of users being shafted by companies no longer willing to “allow” them to use content/services anymore. This incident is just the latest one.

            As far as I know, there isn’t yet a DRM scheme that allows companies to reach into my NAS and delete my MP3/FLAC files.

  12. carlmess

    The message behind all these closings is clear enough: Don't buy any Microsoft product or technology that does not promise billions to the company because it will be shutdown sometime down the road...

  13. hoomgar

    So people who bought eBooks from them are fools Paul?

    • dontbe evil

      In reply to Hoomgar:

      you know paul just bash everything from ms and who use its products ... on the other hand he's really happy to buy an overpiced macbook with a crappy keyboard or download a malware from the play store on spydroid

  14. jgraebner

    Assuming I'm reading this right, it sounds like a big part of this is that they don't plan to implement EPUB support in the Chromium-based Edge. I've never bought an e-book from Microsoft, but I have found Edge to be convenient on occasion for reading EPUB files downloaded from other sources. One online magazine I subscribe to, for example, has an EPUB version that works really well via Edge on my Surface Go. Does anyone have recommendations of other decent EPUB readers for Windows? The Nook app is still a Windows 8 app and pretty clunky. There's always Calibre, but that is kind of overkill.

  15. Chris_Kez

    I often thought Microsoft would somehow find their way into the higher-education book market, first when they tried to partner with Barnes & Noble and then again when they were talking about an e-book store and annotation in Edge. It's a big business with just a few main players to strike deals with. It is also ripe for disruption. They could offer universities textbooks as a service along with Office and other solutions, and bring in OEM partners to supply laptops and tablets as well.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to Chris_Kez:

      Re OEM partners, colleges/universities with their own computer stores seem to buy at wholesale and sell to students and faculty at substantial discounts from retail prices. Unclear OEMs would find it worthwhile to compete under those circumstances. Also, don't most OEMs already offer deals to students and faculty?

      Re STEM textbooks, do Springer, Elsevier or Pearson publish eTextbooks? Just checked Springer, and there are psych, health sciences and a few other fields for which there are eTextbooks, but NADA for math, stats, chemistry, physics or computer science. I have no doubt many lower division intro texts are available as eBooks, but I suspect most upper division texts are available only in traditional physical form.

  16. Tony Barrett

    Deep down, this is a prime example of how MS don't really care about consumers - ie, there customers. When you move into services, things can get ruthless, and MS are throwing as much against the wall as possible to see what sticks. Ok, I get it, MS are only in it for the money, but in order to get that money, people need to have some confidence in them, because to the consumer that few $$ they spend on subscriptions every month is important - they want to know they're not going to be let down and thrown under a bus - something MS seem to be very good at!

  17. hrlngrv

    Cynical: re the refund, only actual money back if the original payment method is still in force. Probably meaning the same expiration date. Otherwise, Store credit to buy other content or apps which may not be around much longer.

  18. NoFlames

    I'm one of the "fools" to buy books from Microsoft. The reason I did it was to combat the monopoly of Amazon books, and the reading experience in edge was fantastic. They also had some amazing sales on books which I took advantage of.

  19. thisisdonovan

    I didn't buy any ebooks....but are they really foolish? They've essentially been able to read the books they wanted for free.

  20. JohnPC

    So, the second time Microsoft has gotten in and then out of ebooks...

  21. markbyrn

    Microsoft has an ebooks store?

  22. gregsedwards

    Paul, you've really got to check this caustic attitude toward those of us who actually support and use Microsoft services, or you risk alienating a lot of your readers. We're not fools...we're curious users who actually want to understand this company and their consumer offerings. I bought a handful of books from Microsoft, typically those that were on sale or I cared about reading on any of my devices. I think the fact that they're offering us a full refund is a pretty great outcome, all things considered. I mean, I got to read a bunch of paid ebooks for free.

  23. gregsedwards

    Between the Band 2 refund and this $25 credit for using annotations, the takeaway here is "people, use your Microsoft products and services at least once in a while."

  24. jbinaz

    How long do the movies & TV shows have? Now that people can access content for a substantial number of movies using Movies Anywhere, they could probably get away with not refunding a lot of movies. Of perhaps they'll come up with a way to transfer digital rights to another retailer. Either way, I can't imagine it'll be too long before movies & TV go away as well.

  25. Yaggs

    I'm sure this relates to moving Edge to Chromium... they just are not going to bother adding eBook support in the updated version of Edge. I wonder if the whole eBook thing was tied to products like Surface Mini and Andromeda... now that Microsoft has cancelled those products eBooks don't really make any sense. They added eBooks right around the time there were leaks about Andromeda... so it would make sense that they needed to get things like eBooks into their platform if that was going to be one of the major selling points. It is nice that they are refunding people who bought stuff though.

    Movies and TV still make a little sense for them since they have XBOX's connected to peoples TVs... but I am a little worried about their ongoing support for that.

    • PhilipVasta

      In reply to Yaggs:

      Possibly, but I still sort of can't believe that anyone at Microsoft thought an eBooks store was necessary. Latley Paul has commented on the haphazard way that certain features are added to Windows in some parts and not others. This sort of feels like that - haphazard and without any realistic long-term thought. Building out eBook reader capabilites into Edge is one thing, building their own store for ebooks is another. Very strange.

      • Yaggs

        In reply to PhilipVasta: I think one of the big features of Andromeda was going to be ebooks… so if you want to highlight that kind of feature you have to have infrastructure in place to do so... I think that is where this came from. Hopefully that is the misguided Microsoft of the past. I would rather see them partner with someone like Amazon to make a great kindle experience on a dual screen device than have them build their own eBooks platform that will never be as good or as popular as something like Kindle.

  26. wbhite

    A long time ago, during the dark days of DRM and WMAs, I got burned by MS by buying a bunch of music through them (or one of their Plays for Sure partners) and not burning them to CD before they shutdown their backends. Yes, it was a different time and a slightly different cautionary tale, but it made me look long and hard at the both the format and provider of any digital media I purchased. I'm glad they're refunding those purchases; it's the right thing to do.

    These days, I'm 100% Amazon for everything.

    • jgraebner

      In reply to wbhite:

      I still often will buy the Blu-Ray if it's a movie I really care a lot about. Video and audio quality is still generally better than streaming and the risks of it suddenly becoming unavailable are lower. Also, most now include a code for the digital version anyway.

      When I do purchase a movie digitally, I don't really care too much which retailer I buy it from as long as it is linked to Movies Anywhere. If I were to buy something from one of the few remaining studios (mainly Paramount and Lions Gate) that aren't part of Movies Anywhere, I probably would be more apt to go to Amazon or Apple since they seem to be the safest bet to still be in that business for a long time.

    • jbinaz

      In reply to wbhite:

      It is the right thing to do, and I'm glad they're doing it. I suspect it's not a huge hit to their bottom line, if it's a hit at all. I would be curious to know how many books they've actually sold.

      I'm also like you in that I'm 100% Amazon for everything. At least purchases; I still occasionally rent through Vudu.

    • yoshi

      In reply to wbhite:

      The only thing keeping me from going 100% Amazon with movies is 4K. They haven't committed to selling the 4K version of movies for the same price as HD, the way Apple has. Even Google has done that for the most part, though there are a few 4K movies with Google that are a bit more than the HD version.

      • jwpear

        In reply to yoshi:

        Amazon seems to be a safe bet for media. They are absolutely my default for books. I do find their lack of 4K movie support annoying. It also seems to be harder to find new movies on Amazon. At times, I swear they're trying to push people to movies that cost less to offer in their catalog. That may be complete nonsense as I don't really have a good understanding for how they license content, but it sure seems harder than on other services.

        Lately, I've settled in to Apple for movie rentals and purchases. It's easier to find content and I like that I often have a 4K option. I also regularly check their 99 cent rental and $5.99 purchase movie deals.

        • yoshi

          In reply to jwpear:

          I know they just went through a battle with Warner Bros. for a couple months. All Warner content was gone from Amazon, but as of this week it's been back.

  27. wx3

    i am seriously not trying to be mean. I really didn't know that they even offered ebooks....

    • Stooks

      In reply to wx3:

      No one did. I bet Microsoft was on the fence as to whether or not they should even have an announcement about shutting down.

      • hrlngrv

        In reply to Stooks:

        Just shut down the service without any announcement or warning? MSFT has too many lawyers to let that happen.

        • Stooks

          In reply to hrlngrv:

          My point is no one really used it and so it really does not matter. Google sells books as well (Google Play Books) and I bet most people do not know that either.

          It is pretty much Amazon and then Apple.... then a long list of tiny players in this market. Microsoft was one of those tiny players.

  28. waethorn

    "Those foolish few who did buy ebooks from Microsoft can get a refund for their purchases."

    Choice words, calling consumers fools.

    What happens when they shut down the video store?

    Or the whole app store?

    Maybe you should call them fools for choosing Windows in the first place.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to Waethorn:

      . . . Choice words, calling consumers fools. . . .

      I'm sure it was meant in the Animal House sense. MSFT: You f***ed up. You trusted us.

    • Stooks

      In reply to Waethorn:

      "Few" is a key word here. I do not know anyone in my world that even knew Microsoft sold books, let alone bought one from them.

      I think they should shut down their video store. Anything not cross platform at this point should go. The Windows store should stay as is useful for sure and all of Microsoft's apps should only come through it (for Windows) once Windows 7 is retired.

    • wbhite

      In reply to Waethorn:

      I think the point is that it's foolish to buy digital media from any company that hasn't display a very long-term commitment to their platform(s).

      • waethorn

        In reply to wbhite:

        Sure. Blame the pathetic fools for giving Microsoft their hard-earned cash. They're just slaves to Microsoft's vendor lock-in, after all. They don't know any better.

  29. donaldhall3

    And this is why we can't have nice things with Microsoft

  30. Dan1986ist

    Android version of Edge is included in this right?

  31. jaredthegeek

    Are they in a competition with Google about who can abandon more products?

  32. rogerc

    The worries about New Edge not getting document annotation features are greatly exaggerated. Surely. Can't wait for MSFT's Chrome-OS competitor for the education sector. It will be a hit. I mean who needs to read and annotate documents? This is fine. Why would Windows Lite ever fail? Inconceivable! Buyers confidence at 110%!

    • Stooks

      In reply to rogerc:

      There are at least half a dozen Chrome extensions out today that will allow you to annotate PDF documents.

      That said there are actual PDF programs that are much better suited for the job vs a web browser.

  33. glenn8878

    Is there any category Microsoft hasn't given up on? eBooks, Music, Movies. Is Apps next?

    Waiting for the day Microsoft gives up on games. Then watch the refunds pour out.