Walmart is getting into the digital book business, but rather than building its own platform from the ground up, the company is partnering with Kobo, the eBook company which was acquired by Japanese retailer Rakuten in 2011.
Kobo may not be as well known in the US and Amazon’s Kindle brand or even Barnes & Noble’s NOOK. But back when Borders bookstores were still a thing, they sold Kobo eReaders and Kobo eBooks.
Walmart’s move could be the biggest thing to happen to happen to Kobo in the US since Borders went out of business.
Walmart will be the exclusive “mass retail partner for the Kobo brand in the US,” which means that you’ll be able to buy Kobo devices at Walmart stores or from Walmart.com.
You’ll also be able to purchase millions of eBook titles through Walmart and the company will sell digital book cards in 4,000 stores.
Walmart and Kobo will also offer co-branded apps for reading eBooks on iOS, Android, or desktop PC devices as well as Kobo eReaders.
Of course, you can already buy Kobo devices or content from Kobo.com. But the partnership with Walmart will get Kobo’s eReaders, eBooks, and apps in front of a much wider audience in the United States.
The new partnership between Walmart and Rakuten isn’t just about eBooks. The company’s are also working together to launch a grocery delivery service in Japan later this year.