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Sony is getting out of the e-book business in the U.S. and Canada and transfering all its current users over to the Kobo system, the company announced today. For all intents and purposes, Kobo will soon act as the official e-reader for Sony products.
Sony's Reader apps and hardware, once competitive, have been neglected for years while Amazon, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble have poured money into new services and technologies. For Sony fans, this announcement of a withdrawal from the e-reader market was not a matter of if, but when — and now that "when" is Mar. 20.
Kobo's bookstore, not particularly well-known in the U.S. but fairly popular in Europe and elsewhere, will now provide Sony's readers, tablets, and phones with e-book services. It'll even come pre-installed on Sony's devices.
Don't worry: if you bought books on Sony's system, they should transfer over to the Kobo ecosystem without any trouble. The migration process will be sent to your email in March. But if you have gift cards or unused balance at the Reader store, you should probably use it in the next month or so — and any annotations or notes you've made on books won't be transferred, either.
While Sony doesn't say specifically that they will no longer be making e-readers, it doesn't seem likely, given that it has apparently abandoned the development of its apps and the maintenance of its e-book store. The 3G service some of the readers use will also be discontinued.