Walmart plans to sell e-books and audiobooks, its latest effort to encroach on an area of Amazon strength. The nation's largest retailer said Thursday it has struck a deal to use Tokyo-based Rakuten Inc.'s e-reading service called Kobo to sell e-books and audio books. It will also offer e-readers in Walmart stores and online in the U.S. starting later this year.
The content will be accessible through a Walmart-Kobo app on Apple and Android devices. Kobo offers nearly 6 million titles from thousands of publishers.
Walmart is aiming to narrow the gap between itself and Amazon online by expanding its services and adding new items. The Bentonville, Arkansas-based retailer has long offered entertainment including streaming movies through Vudu or the digital game cards it sells in its stores.
It sees getting into the e-book business as a way to offer new choices for consumers. But Walmart is late to the game. Amazon has been selling e-books for years, and they grew in popularity with readers shortly after the company introduced the Kindle e-reader in late 2007. Amazon expanded its audiobooks content in 2008, when it acquired Audible.
Apple and Barnes & Noble also sell e-books for their devices and apps. Apple apparently is stepping up its game, reportedly overhauling its e-books app with a new design and a better online book store.
"Working with Rakuten Kobo enables us to quickly and efficiently launch a full e-book and audiobook catalog on Walmart.com to provide our customers with additional choices alongside our assortment of physical books," Scott Hilton, chief revenue officer at Walmart's U.S. e-commerce division, wrote in a company blog post.
Walmart declined to talk about prices for the e-books.
As part of the alliance with Rakuten, Walmart will also launch a new online grocery delivery service in Japan starting in the third quarter. Walmart has operated a grocery delivery service in Japan with its stores fulfilling the orders. But Walmart officials said that a partnership will help accelerate its online grocery business.
Walmart declined to discuss the financial terms of the partnerships.
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Posted: 2018-01-26 @ 11:24am PT
I seem to recall that the now defunct Borders bookstore chain partnered with Kobo in an attempt to enter the e-book market shortly before going under. Borders' CEO cited a late entry into the eBook market as one of the reasons for the chain's ultimate demise. And does Walmart really think they can do any better now that the market is even further consolidated?
Posted: 2018-01-26 @ 10:22am PT
Wal-Mart is too late to the game. Wal-Mart should have been making these types of moves +5 years ago. Now it is too late for Wal-Mart because Amazon has 90 million prime members in America whom are within Amazon's ecosystem and will be loyal to Amazon. When it comes to books and ebooks if Apple, Google and Barnes and Noble cannot beat Amazon in the book market, then Wal-Mart will have no chance.