Rakuten Kobo is making strides into the US e-reading market through a partnership with Walmart which sees the multinational offering e-books to its customers.
The two firms revealed in January they had struck a deal which would see the launch of a new online grocery delivery service in Japan, where Kobo owner Rakuten is based, while Walmart would begin selling e-books, audiobooks and Rakuten Kobo e-readers through its store and website in the US.
On Wednesday (22nd August), the companies unveiled Walmart eBooks, an online store reached through Walmart’s e-commerce website offering customers 6 million titles, from adults to children’s, published by both large and small publishers.
The link up also sees customers offered an audiobook subscription through Walmart. The multinational retail corporation is undercutting Amazon’s audiobook subscription service Audible by offering the service for $9.99 a month, whilst Audible charges $14.99.
In addition, Walmart is offering customers digital book cards in 3,500 of its stores with access to 40 titles while, in 1,000 of its stores it will stock the Kobo Aura e-reader, as well as selling the device online.
Back in January, Kobo president and c.e.o. said: “Walmart is one of the top retailers in the world and one of the largest booksellers in the U.S. Our strategy from day one has been to partner with the world’s best retailers, so that they can easily offer their customers the option of reading digitally. This informs the software and devices we create, the books and authors we promote, and also the partnerships we build.”
The partnership is being viewed as a move for both firms to step up their competition with Amazon in the US, which is dominant in the e-book and digital audiobook market and ever-growing in the retail market.