When Walmart and Rakuten Kobo first announced their partnership in January, a few hopeful souls thought that Amazon finally have a real competitor in the ebook market.
I am sorry to disappoint them, but Walmart doesn't care as much about this market as they do.
I finally had a chance to visit my local Walmart today and look for the ebook display. It took up two panels in the book section, and was located in a great spot: the corner of two of the main aisles.
That was all it had going for it. According to the pricing stickers, the display had been there since August 22, but no one had bothered to fully set it up or maintain it. They hadn't even bothered to put out the display units:
Do you see those Kobo Aura boxes? They're supposed to be behind the counter in the electronics department.
And that shrink-wrapped packet of cards is supposed to be on one of the hooks, only no one had bothered to follow through.
Speaking of ebook cards, the hooks are still covered in the tape that was used during shipment to keep the cards from sliding around. You literally cannot buy an ebook, audiobook, etc without removing the tape:
How many people do you think would even bother?
I did, which is how I know that the cards offer zero incentive for me to complete a sale. The back of the cards don't even have a blurb, much less any other detail that would appeal to readers.
Folks, this is not a serious attempt to sell ebooks - not in any way, shape, or form. This display tells us that the only thing Walmart cares about is being about to boast that they sell ebooks in store.
So long as Walmart can say that in their quarterly statements, they are satisfied. Actually selling ebooks - well, I doubt that is even mentioned on the same slide deck.