Walmart today announced that it has partnered with Rakuten Kobo to launch its own dedicated eBooks platform, simply called Walmart eBooks. The service will be available as an iOS and Android application, as well as on Kobo's eReaders, and function similarly to rival eBook services from Apple and Amazon.
"More than six million" eBooks will be up for purchase on Walmart's site, and once you find your next book you can choose the "eBook" option, click "Buy", checkout, and find the book in any app or eReader synced to your Walmart account. It appears that you can't buy books directly from the iOS app, and can only download a sample of each novel to read.
In stores, Walmart will also debut "digital book cards" of nearly 40 novels, which will provide codes that you can then go home and redeem to save the eBook on your devices. The partnership is also introducing Kobo eReaders on Walmart.com and in 1,000 Walmart retail stores, starting at $99.99 with the Kobo Aura.
Summer is almost over, which means there are only a few more weeks left to soak up the sun and enjoy one of the beach reads all of your friends have been talking about. Today, we’re making it easier than ever to check out the latest new releases with the launch of Walmart eBooks by Rakuten Kobo, Walmart’s partnership with Kobo to offer an all-new digital books catalog in stores and online.
Walmart eBooks will complement our vast physical book assortment and offer customers a comprehensive digital book solution, introducing an entirely new category that hasn’t been previously available at Walmart.
The free Walmart eBooks app is available to download today from the iOS App Store [Direct Link], and will act as a hub for Walmart's new initiative, collecting your eBooks, audiobooks, graphic novels, and children's books on iPhone and iPad. Features include resizable text, a Night Mode, screen orientation lock, automatic bookmarks, bookmark syncing across devices, free book previews, and more.
The app provides "Awards" for accomplishing certain literary tasks, such as finishing a certain number of books, highlighting quotes, sharing a passage on social media, and more. The app will also track your reading stats and library activity, showing the percentage complete of the current book you're reading, the amount of time you've spent reading the book, and number of pages turned. Additionally, Walmart eBooks will track the total hours you spend reading, hours per book, pages per hour, pages per session, and more.
There's also a new audiobook subscription service that will let customers subscribe for $9.99 per month and gain access to one audiobook every month. Comparatively, Amazon's Audible service offers credit for one audiobook every month at $14.95 per month. Customers who sign up online will also get $10 off their first a la carte audiobook or eBook, and the audiobook service includes a 30-day free trial.
Walmart's entry into the eBook market comes eight years after Apple announced iBooks alongside the iPad in 2010, and just over ten years after Amazon's original Kindle launched in the United States alongside the Kindle eBooks store.