Asda owner Walmart partners with Japanese etailer Rakuten

Walmart Is Bringing the Fight to Amazon's Turf: E-books

Walmart will partner with Japan firm Rakuten to sell the new products, through a new category on the website.

The collaboration will bring Rakuten's Kobo device and e-book catalog to Walmart's U.S. stores later this year, the companies said in a statement late Thursday. These books will be accessible via the Walmart/Kobo co-branded app that will be available on iOS and Android, along with a desktop app, and also via the Kobo eReader.

Walmart is to become the exclusive retailer of the Kobo brand in the USA, and will begin offering Kobo's about 6 million e-book and audio book titles later this year.

Walmart is "constantly exploring new ways to make every day easier for customers by offering great experiences in stores, online, via mobile", the company's president and chief executive, Doug McMillon, said in the statement. The joint venture will replace and expand Walmart's existing grocery delivery service with an operation called Rakuten Seiyu Netsuper.

Ready to get started? With Google's new foray into audiobooks and Kobo's push into bricks-and-mortar stores, 2018 is shaping up to be an interesting year for book-lovers.

Walmart is making a circuitous and belated push into the digital book market, teaming up with a Japanese company to sell e-books and audiobooks.

The business will also boost capacity by opening a dedicated grocery fulfillment center this year, they said.

The delivery service will be offered through Walmart's Japanese subsidiary, Seiyu.

Both companies said that to respond to the needs of customers increasingly short on time for preparation, the service will include not only fresh produce and daily consumables but also a line-up of convenient items such as cut vegetables, partially prepared foods and meal kits.

"Walmart is one of the top retailers in the world and one of the largest booksellers in the U.S", added Rakuten Kobo CEO Michael Tamblyn.

Seven and i Holdings Co Ltd, operator of Japan's largest chain of convenience stores, previous year announced it would cooperate on fresh food delivery with Askul Corp. They hope to start selling and delivering groceries as early as July.

Kobo is a global leader in eBooks and audiobooks with almost six million titles from thousands of publishers - everything from children's books to New York Times best sellers and indie titles.

According to Hildick-Smith's analysis, Kobo accounted for fewer than 1 percent of e-book purchases last fall, while purchases from Amazon totaled about 75 percent.

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