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Engadget reports that Walmart has launched an e-book and audiobook website that it has been working on for the past year, since it established a partnership with Japanese firm Rakuten and its Kobo e-book subsidiary.

That deal, the story notes, promised “to give its customers (in the US, at least) an easy way to access the six million titles in Kobo's library. Now, you can finally access the partner's e-book experience via Kobo e-readers and their new co-branded apps for iOS and Android devices. You can also purchase e-books on Walmart's US website, where they're listed alongside their physical counterparts.”

Engadget notes that in addition to competing with Amazon’s e-book business online, the new Walmart/Kobo effort will include the sale of digital book cards in its stores; there also will be an audiobook subscription service. And, Walmart will begin selling Kobo e-book readers in about a thousand of its stores, beginning this week.
KC's View:
First of all, it is interesting that this is a move that Walmart is making now, a time when e-book sales seem to be leveling off. I suppose that this is a measure of how it views Amazon and the need to compete on all levels.

I’ve been to the Walmart/Kobo site, and I’m not impressed. It is functional and minimalist without being really appealing. It also doesn’t do as good a job at creating context, and is sort of inconsistent in how it displays and differentiates e-books, audiobooks and physical books. I did like the idea that the site isn’t just selling books from Walmart, but also from third-party sellers.

One thing I really liked - they’re selling “The Big Picture: Essential Business Lessons from the Movies,” the book that Michael Sansolo and I wrote. Gotta admire their taste.