Walmart has pulled the Kobo displays from its stores in a recent reorganization, but they still have the ereaders in stock.
Earlier today I had a reason to visit my local Walmart store for the first time in a couple months. This store had a Kobo display when I was last there in early April, but today I found that they had replaced it with books.
My apologies for the quality of the photo, folks; my phone’s camera was overwhelmed by the lighting.
The Kobo display had previously occupied two sections of the main aisle near the media/electronics dept. One section was devoted to ebook gift cards, and the other was supposed to be Kobo demo units (this was never actually set up in any of the stores I checked), but now both sections and in fact the entire wall has been replaced with books. The books had previously had their own aisle in the media/electronics dept, but they got kicked out so Walmart could install additional tables with tablet and laptop demo units. (Think Best Buy or Apple store, but more crowded.)
Walmart and Kobo announced in January 2018 that Walmart would be Kobo’s retail partner in the US, and that made that partnership a reality in August 2018 with the launch of an ebookstore on Walmart.com, and the installation if the aforementioned Kobo displays in select Walmart stores.
The retailer did not invest the time to maintain the displays, which was a shame because they were actually selling the ebook gift cards. Walmart also neglected to train their staff on how the devices worked, or even their specs.
While we are on the topic, what did you think of the displays? Did your Walmart store even have one?
I do not know what happened to the gift cards from the displays, but I can report that the ereader hardware is still in stores, although I was not able to put my hands on them. All three of Kobo’s current models (Clara, Libra, Forma) are listed as being available for next day pickup at my local Walmart.
While it’s possible Walmart could be fibbing about availability, I seriously doubt that is the case. Availability accuracy is too damned important in the retail trade currently, and Walmart does not want to annoy customers with a bait and switch.
While the store displays are gone, Walmart continues to sell ebooks and ereaders on its website.