Sainsbury's buys out publisher stakes in Anobii

Sainsbury’s has purchased the HarperCollins and Penguin Random House stakes in the Anobii e-book platform, becoming its sole owner.

The supermarket bought a 64% stake in the e-book platform from the HMV Company in June 2012 for £1 and has today (5th August) acquired PRH’s 24% stake and HarperCollins’ 12% stake to own 100% of the company.

The deal allows the company to merge the e-books by Sainsbury's website into the general Sainsbury's website where music downloads are based so customers will have a single port of call for their entertainment downloads, in the style of competitor Tesco's Blinkbox website. Sainsbury’s said the move gives it full control of the platform “as part of its growing Sainsbury’s Entertainment digital offer” and it plans to offer customers an “enhanced” digital entertainment experience across film, music and books via Sainsbury’s Entertainment website following the acquisition.

Tim Lennox, managing director of eBooks by Sainsbury’s who will head up the new online entertainment business, said: “This is the logical next step in our commitment to growing our digital entertainment offer for customers across film, music and books in a way which complements and connects with our broader Sainsbury’s business.”

Sainsbury’s spent a year working on the site, adding new features and functionality after buying it, then rebranded the platform e-books by Sainsbury’s . It has since integrated e-book sales with the store’s Nectar points system, allowing customers to earn and spend Nectar point on e-books, run author-backed e-book promotions on cereal packets in its supermarkets, gone head-to-head with Amazon on competitive e-books pricing  and won E-book Retailer of the Year at The Bookseller Industry Awards in May.

Ian Hudson, deputy c.e.o of Penguin Random House UK, said: “Having helped launch Anobii in the UK, we would now like to wish Sainsbury’s every success in taking the platform forward to its next successful chapter.”

Simon Johnson, group managing director of HarperCollins UK, added: “We’re very pleased to have been a part of this slick, award-winning site. We wish Sainsbury’s continuing success with it and look forward to maintaining our strong trading partnership with them.”