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Microsoft stops selling ebooks and will refund customers for previous purchases

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Ebooks will no longer be accessible as of July 2019

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Starting today, Microsoft is ending all ebook sales in its Microsoft Store for Windows PCs. Previously purchased ebooks will be removed from users’ libraries in early July. Even free ones will be deleted. The company will offer full refunds to users for any books they’ve purchased or preordered.

Microsoft’s “official reason,” according to ZDNet, is that this move is part of a strategy to help streamline the focus of the Microsoft Store. It seems that the company no longer has an interest in trying to compete with Amazon, Apple Books, and Google Play Books. It’s a bit hard to imagine why anyone would go with Microsoft over those options anyway.

What trying to buy an ebook from the Microsoft Store looks like now.
Image: Microsoft

If you have purchased ebooks from Microsoft, you can continue accessing them through the Edge browser until everything vanishes in July. After that, customers can expect to automatically receive a refund.

According to a newly published Microsoft Store FAQ, “refund processing for eligible customers 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 If your original payment method is no longer valid (or if you used a gift card), you’ll receive a credit back to your Microsoft account to use online at the Microsoft Store.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 today, April 2nd. I guess that’s meant to be an added bonus for the inconvenience of losing those notes. That’s one point in favor of physical books, which can’t be deleted from a server after you’ve bought them.