Microsoft to Delete Purchased eBooks

John Lister's picture

Microsoft is to remove all electronic books sold through its official store. Users will get a refund while those who have made virtual notes on the book will get a bonus payment.

Unlike most rival electronic book services, Microsoft had no dedicated electronic reading device and did not even offer an e-reader app. Instead, people who bought books through the Microsoft Store had to read them through a web browser.

It's probably not a surprise that Microsoft has pulled the plug and will no longer be hosting the books online, most likely as it is ending the relevant licensing with publishers.

Check Payment Details

Users have been unable to make new purchases since April 2, 2019. Microsoft says purchased books will be unavailable until "early" July, though hasn't given a precise date. It may vary from person to person as Microsoft will remove a customer's access once they've issued the refund.

Those who have bought books should check their Microsoft account and stored payment details immediately. Although there will be a full refund, it will be issued through the currently stored method. If the user has deleted the payment details or they are now out of date (for example, if a card is applied), the refund will be issued as credit for the Microsoft store rather than as cash.

Users who made mark-ups or annotations in books before April 2 will get an additional payment of $25. (Source:

Ebook Licensing Confuses Some

Wired quotes Aaron Perzanowski, an expert of digital licensing laws, as saying refunds are of limited satisfaction. He argues that "consumers exchange money for goods because they preferred the goods to the money."  (Source:

Perzanowski also points out that most Kindle titles are technically licensed rather than sold, something that has confused customers whenever they click "Buy Now" to purchase a title.

The BBC notes that Microsoft actually first sold electronic books in 2000, seven years before Amazon started operations with the Kindle e-reader and store. The service being withdrawn now was Microsoft's third attempt to crack the market.

What's Your Opinion?

Did you know Microsoft sold electronic books? Is a full refund a fair way to handle the removal of the books? Does the fact electronic books are often technically licensed rather than sold put you off buying them?

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Focused100's picture

The DRM law passed in 1998 was meant to foil pirates mostly. However, it has been turned against us, the average consumer by allowing a firm to delete media at will. It happens time and time again. Causing a small amt of indignation. Then it's quiet again until the next time...

PseudoGeek's picture

I don't have any Microsoft e-books. For those who do, would MS they go digging through the customer's computers looking for them to delete? Will they only look in a certain folder? If one were to change the folder and/or filename of their books or put them in an encrypted folder, would that preserve them? Would MS be able to sue someone who no longer has the books on their device or who hides them using one of these methods? Would criminal charges be possible?

This is so ridiculous that I only have questions, no answers.

John Lister's picture

PseudoGeek: The Microsoft e-books in this situation aren't stored on a device -- they are only accessible through a web browser.