Walmart partners with Rakuten to broaden Kobo's US reach

Walmart partners with Rakuten to broaden Kobo's US reach

Kobo's parent company Rakuten has struck a "strategic alliance" with Walmart which will see the e-book retailer broaden its customer base in the US.

Rakuten, a Japanese e-commerce firm, has partnered with the American retail giant Walmart “to expand consumer reach and enhance how customers are served in Japan and the US."

The partnership will mean Kobo e-books, audiobooks and e-readers will be sold in Walmart stores and online at Walmart.com in the US later this year. There will also be a launch of a new online grocery delivery service in Japan beginning in the third quarter of 2018 as a result of the alliance.

Walmart will become the exclusive mass retail partner for the Kobo brand in America, selling Kobo’s library of around six million titles in 4,000 stores via digital book cards. The cards are reported to be physical cards customers can buy while shopping at a Walmart store that contain a download code for access to an e-book or audiobook after they leave the store, according to according to arts Technica.

All e-book content will be accessible through a co-branded app available on various devices including Kobo e-readers, which will also be sold at Walmart later this year.

“Walmart is one of the top retailers in the world and one of the largest booksellers in the US,” Kobo c.e.o. Michael Tamblyn said. “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.”

He added: “For us, this is another great opportunity to serve book lovers at Walmart, those people who make reading an important part of their lives.”

Earlier this month Kobo launched an ‘Originals’ programme in France, the Netherlands and Canada, offering readers exclusive original e-book and audiobook content.