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No more Nookie for Blighty as Barnes & Noble pulls out

Can you keep your books? No guarantees

Barnes & Noble's Nook business in the US is faltering, but that's nothing compared to the UK, where it's exiting and handing operations to Sainsbury's.

The company has posted this announcement on its UK site.

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/gb will cease operation.

In one of the most amazing statements this author has read, the company says it's trying to set up a deal with Sainsbury's Entertainment on Demand "to ensure that you have continued access to the vast majority of your purchased NOOK Books at no new cost to you" (emphasis added).

If we read that correctly, in getting out of the UK, Nook can't even guarantee that all the books customers have already bought temporarily licensed will remain accessible to them.

Customers will get further e-mails telling them what incantations to use to transfer their licenses to Sainsbury's.

Back in the US, B&N has reported a 1.8 per cent decline in overall sales, blaming Nook for part of the fall.

In its latest financials, here at Reuters, the company reported total sales for the last quarter of $US1.41bn, down from $1.44bn.

Sales at retail stores that have been open for at least a year rose by 3.1 per cent.

Fortune attributes a catastrophic 12 per cent fall in Barnes and Noble's online sales to a "botched site relaunch."

But Nook is even worse: That article adds that in the first nine months of the year, Nook sold just $211m worth and lost $70m.

In what will be read over UK breakfasts with at best a bitter laugh, the company's CEO Ron Boire said the company can't just walk away from e-books, because "customers had digital expectations."

Being able to read content you've already paid for might almost count as one such expectation. ®

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