Earlier this year, Walmart announced a partnership with Rakuten Kobo as the first step in a plan to launch its own ebook service in the US. The fruits of that partnership are now live in the form of Walmart eBooks, a new service that offers digital books, as well as audiobooks at a subscription rate that undercuts Audible. The service takes on Amazon, which has long dominated the ebook and ereader market in the US.
Walmart eBooks offers access to Kobo’s ebook library, which features more than six million digital books spanning indie authors to bestsellers. In addition, the service is offering a monthly audiobook subscription at $9.99/month, which offers one audiobook each month at that rate.
This is similar to how Audible works, though Amazon’s audiobook service is more expensive at $14.95/month. Unique to the new service is in-store access these digital goods via digital book cards that can be purchased at 3,500 Walmart stores. The store is offering around 40 books via these in-store digital cards, including popular titles like Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now.
Walmart is now also selling various Kobo ereaders both in its stores and through its website. The Kobo Aura model will be available in 1,000 Walmart stores starting this week. Customers who prefer smartphones and tablets can also access the digital goods through Android and iOS apps.
A launch promotion is offering new customers a $10 credit toward an ebook or audiobook when they sign up; the audiobook subscription comes with a 30-day trial.