Nook is pulling out of the UK and transferring its UK customers to Sainsbury's.
The e-reader and tablet company owned by American bookselling chain Barnes & Noble told customers it would stop trading in the UK, effective as of 15th March 2016, via a notice posted on its website last night (3rd March).
It read: "Effective from March 15, 2016, Nook will no longer sell digital content in the United Kingdom. The Nook Store on Nook devices sold in the UK, on the UK Nook Reading App for Android, and at nook.com/gbwill cease operation."
The agreement with Sainsbury's means customers can continue to access "the vast majority" of already purchased e-books through a Sainsbury’s Entertainment on Demand account. The process is not automatic for customers, however, who were told their "action is required" and to look out for emails with instructions how to transfer books. The company said it was "working closely with Sainsbury’s" to make the transition "as smooth as possible".
Blackwell's and Foyles have not been selling Nook e-readers and tablets in their stores for some months, The Bookseller understands. They were among B&N's partner retailers when the company first launched the e-reader in the UK in October 2012, along with Sainsbury's, John Lewis, Argos, Asda, Dixons and Waitrose.
Barnes & Noble launched the first version of the Nook e-reader in 2009 in the US.
Between 2013 and 2014 Nook said it had made gains in the UK market, according to Colin Eustace, general manager of Barnes & Noble, S.A.R.L, at the time. It followed up by launching self-publishing platform Nook Press in March 2014 and brought out the Nook Glowlight Reader in August 2014 in a bid to compete with Amazon's Kindle Paperwhite.
Around the same time in the US B&N revealed plans to spin off its Nook business from its other retail businesses in a bid to increase shareholder value after the company continued to suffer rapid falls in demand for Nook hardware and content at the expense of its tablet and e-reader rivals Amazon, Apple and Google.
In the US, sales of Nook devices and content continue to fall. Yesterday, Barnes & Noble reported a 1.8% fall in quarterly sales to $1.41bn, the result of "weak demand for its Nook tablets", within which sales of its Nook division fell by a third to $51.7m. The Nook division also reported a loss of $11m, though this at least was less than the $29m loss it recorded a year earlier.
Analyst Neil Saunders, chief executive at research company Conlumino, told Reuters yesterday: "The company's Nook business continues to be an unmitigated disaster. It remains clear that Nook is a business in terminal decline."
Eustace could not be reached for comment this morning (4th March).