It looks like Walmart is ramping up its efforts to take on Amazon. In partnership with Kobo, the company has announced a new ebook store called Walmart eBooks by Rakuten Kobo. The new service brings ebooks to Walmart customers both in-store and online, but perhaps more importantly it represents Walmart’s continued push against the likes of Amazon, which continues to bite chunks out of Walmart’s bottom line.
Thanks to the partnership with Kobo, Walmart eBooks will boast Kobo’s 6-million-title-strong library, as well as access to a $9.99-per-month audiobook subscription (which only gets users one audiobook per month), and more. Of course, customers will also be able to buy Kobo’s e-readers in Walmart stores or on Walmart.com, as well as purchase so-called digital book cards in any of 3,500 Walmart stores. Forty titles will be available at launch.
Thankfully, if you want to take advantage of the new service, you don’t have to buy a Kobo ebook reader — customers can also access ebooks through a Walmart eBooks and Kobo co-branded app, which will be available through both iOS and Android.
New customers will get a few perks, too. Those who sign up online will get $10 off their first ebook or audiobook through the service, and those interested in the audiobook subscription will also get a 30-day free trial.
It makes sense that Walmart would launch its ebook effort in conjunction with Kobo, rather than on its own. Kobo already has an established customer base, as well as its own series of e-readers. We’ve reviewed the Kobo Clara HD, one of the company’s flagship ebook readers, and scored it an impressive 4.5 stars out of 5. We also featured the Kobo Aura One as our top ebook reader to buy, thanks largely to its EPUB support and waterproof design. Walmart specifically will be selling the Kobo Aura, a lower-cost version of the Aura One.
In general, we’re likely to see more efforts like this from Walmart — though that doesn’t mean that it’ll help in the company’s push against online retailers. As Walmart mentions in its press release, the company has been building out its offerings through Walmart.com in general, including the launch of new categories like the ebook store.