Walmart is in the process of setting up new ebook sections in the book departments of its stores, Kobo has let slip a promo video for "Walmart eBooks", and multiple references have been found in Walmart's help pages.
While there is no sign of the Walmart eBook apps, I did report a few weeks ago in an exclusive scoop that this would launch on the 21st, and here it is.
Walmart is going to be selling ebooks both on its site and in stores. The ebookstore will be located at www.walmart.com/ebooks when it goes live, and it will be managed by Kobo and supported via a subdomain on Kobo's website.
Walmart will sell just one Kobo model in stores at launch, the $99 Kobo Aura. (While the ebook display has clamps for two devices, the second one is sized for a tablet and has a label that mentions the ebook app, not a Kobo device.)
I know there's a report that Walmart will sell 3 models, but there is just the one card and one price tag for the one model. The Kobo Aura will not be on the display itself; instead, customers will take a hang card from the display, use it to buy the Aura, and then collect the ereader afterwards.
Customers will use a similar process for buying ebooks in a Walmart store.
The display has hooks for a little over 60 gift cards. They will be used to show off a selection of ebook and/or audiobook title cards. The price tags have already been applied, and range from $2.99 to $26.99.
On the other half of the display there are 18 more hooks which will be used for cash value gift cards and cards for audiobook subscriptions. The gift cards come in increments of $10, $25 and $50, while the audiobook subscriptions come in increments of $30, $60 and $120, for three month, six month and one year subscriptions.
Customers will be able to take the cards up to the cashier to buy/activate them, and then either scan a code on the back of the card to add the ebook to their Walmart eBook app, or type a code into their account online to add the ebook to their account.
Walmart used a similar ebook gift car system for its ebookstore in Canada, but shut that down in 2016. I was told by Walmart's tech partner that the program ended after the market dried up. That partner later sold off its tech to a 3rd party. Also, Target partnered with Livrada to sell ebook gift cards in stores in 2012, and Amazon ran a similar pilot in drug stores in 2016. Both programs were shut down for unknown reasons.
To put it simply, Walmart is now reviving a sales model that has failed three times in the past 6 years. Do you think they're going to get it right this time, or are they repeating the same mistake as before?
images via MobileRead member rcentros