As Part of Rakuten Alliance, Walmart.com to Begin Offering eBooks and Audiobooks

By Scott Hilton
January 25, 2018
Woman looking at phone on a bus

Today, we announced a strategic alliance with Rakuten, the number one e-commerce company in Japan.

Initially, the relationship focuses on two areas. First, we’ll launch an online grocery delivery joint venture in Japan and, second, we’re adding an entirely new category to our U.S. assortment – eBooks and audiobooks, powered by Rakuten’s digital book business, Kobo. I wanted to talk about the second here as it directly serves customers in the U.S.

We have long been a destination for entertainment including digital content – whether movies through VUDU or the digital game cards we sell in our stores. eBooks and audiobooks are a great addition to our assortment. Working with Rakuten Kobo enables us to quickly and efficiently launch a full eBook and audiobook catalog on Walmart.com to provide our customers with additional choices alongside our assortment of physical books.

Kobo is a global leader in eBooks and audiobooks with nearly six million titles from thousands of publishers – everything from children’s books to New York Times best sellers and indie titles. As the exclusive mass retail partner of the Kobo brand in the U.S., that full assortment of eBooks will be available on Walmart.com later this year, with audiobooks launching after that.

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. For example, anyone shopping for the latest best seller will be able to purchase the physical book shipped to home or to their local store, an eBook and/or an audiobook.

All eBook content will be accessible through a Walmart/Kobo co-branded app on all iOS and Android devices, a desktop app and Kobo eReaders (which we’ll offer online and in stores later this year). We will also use our stores to make it easier for our more than 140 million weekly customers to get their hands on eBook and audiobook titles, including, but not limited to, offering eBook cards in stores.

At Walmart, we want to be the destination for customers no matter how they want to shop, and no matter what they want to shop for, which includes adding new categories, products and brands. Stay tuned, there is more to come.