Walmart has joined forces with Japanese company Ratuken, owner of the Kobo ebook platform, to start selling ebooks, ereaders and audiobooks.
You’ll be able to buy Kobo’s Aura-branded ebook readers in Walmart stores, and take your pick from thousands of digital titles from the superstore’s website.
“The ebook and audiobook offering will be fully integrated into the Walmart online shopping experience, and customers will be able to buy these versions as well as the physical book while shopping for their favorite titles,” said Walmart’s chief revenue officer Scott Hilton.
You won’t be able to load your newly bought books on your Kindle, though. Ebooks and audiobooks bought through Walmart’s site will be DRM-protected, meaning you’ll only be able to read them on a Kobo device, or a Walmart-Kobo app for desktop, iOS and Android devices.
Audible vs Google vs Kobo
The news comes just days after Google launched its own audiobook store, which puts it in direct competition with Amazon’s Audible service. Unlike Audible and Kobo, Google Audiobooks has no subscription, with books available as one-off purchases only.
Google has offered ebooks for years via its Play Store, but has never presented a real challenge to Amazon’s crown. With Google’s new foray into audiobooks and Kobo’s push into bricks-and-mortar stores, 2018 is shaping up to be an interesting year for book-lovers.
There’s no official launch date for the Walmart-Kobo partnership, and we don’t yet know whether it will be offering a subscription model, but we expect to see ebook readers on shelves later this year.
Via The Verge