eBook buyers could be at risk of losing their entire library of purchases, as they don’t actually own the books themselves.
Readers have in fact only paid for access to an online library and in the event the service is closed, any books they have bought will disappear.
This means bad news for customers of Microsoft’s eBook store, as the company has announced it is closing it down, rendering any books bought through the service lost.
A licence to access – not own
Microsoft’s eBook customers will now see their entire book collection vanish with the closure of the store, which may come as an unexpected surprise to anyone who ever used the service.
Instead of paying for a copy of a book, customers were in fact paying for access to read it.
Unknown to many customers, this access can be taken away at any moment, as per the terms and conditions of every major eBook store.
Fellow eBook stores such as Amazon, Apple and Google also broadly follow the same rules, meaning shoppers are actually just buying a licence to read the books, rather than a licence to own them.
This also means that customers cannot freely give away their book to somebody else once they’ve finished reading it, due to piracy.
The majority of books sold in eBook stores come with digital rights management software attached to ensure that the copy you are accessing has been purchased and paid for properly.
It does this by authenticating your file via the servers of the store where it has been purchased.
What will happen to books bought through Microsoft?
Starting from 2 April 2019, customers will no longer be able to buy, rent or pre-order books from the Microsoft Store.
Customers will be able to continue to read any books they have acquired until early July 2019, but after this date they will no longer be available.
Refunds will begin automatically rolling out for eligible customers in early July to their original payment method.
If this is no longer valid or on file, customers will be given a credit back to their Microsoft account for use online in the Microsoft Store.