The new section on Walmart.com draws on Kobo's library, which features more than 6 million titles.

Walmart Inc. on Wednesday announced it is getting into the e-book and audiobook business with the launch of Walmart eBooks by Rakuten Kobo.

The new section on Walmart.com draws on Kobo’s library, which features more than 6 million titles that range from New York Times bestsellers to lesser-known titles. And, similar to Amazon.com Inc.’s Audible, it offers a monthly audiobook subscription service. Walmart aims to compete with Amazon on price; its audiobook offering is $9.99, 33.2% less than Audible’s service.

Walmart is taking an omnichannel approach to e-books by allowing consumers to buy digital book cards in its 3,500 Walmart stores. Those digital book cards will be for about 40 popular titles, such as Eckhart Tolle’s “The Power of Now” and Neil deGrasse-Tyson’s “Astrophysics for People in a Hurry.” The cards will begin rolling out to stores this week. The retailer on Wednesday also began selling a variety of Kobo eReaders on Walmart.com, and later this week, it will sell the Kobo Aura e-reader in about 1,000 stores.

Consumers also can access Walmart eBooks via co-branded iOS and Android apps, which launched Wednesday, and on Kobo eReaders.

Working with Walmart will help Rakuten serve a worldwide audience, writes Michael Tamblyn, Rakuten Kobo’s president and CEO in a blog post. The company, founded in 2009, was built to serve consumers in multiple countries, in multiple currencies and in multiple languages. It currently delivers content in 190 countries and operates localized online stores in 24 of those countries.

advertisement

“Although we are a company that focuses on selling a digital product, retailers and store experiences have always been an important part of the mix in every country we operate in,” Tamblyn writes. “That’s why we’re excited to partner with Walmart as we grow in the U.S. market. Together, we can provide even more people with a great reading experience, whether that’s print, digital or both. I say both because we know that digital vs. print isn’t ‘either or.’ Today, about one in four books sold in the U.S. is an e-book, and in some categories like romance, mystery or fantasy, it’s more like one in two or three. Our best e-book customers tell us they also buy a dozen or more print books a year, as well as digital audiobooks.”

Walmart is No. 3 in the Internet Retailer 2018 Top 1000.

Favorite