Walmart & Kobo tie up. Digital Book World 2018.

Walmart and Kobo shared the stage at Digital Book World. While the announcement of their partnership had come at the end of August, Michael Tamblyn (CEO, Rakuten Kobo) and Mario Pacini (GM, Entertainment, Walmart, eCommerce US) made a personal appearance on the Main Stage to discuss the relationship.

Both parties are clearly pleased by the benefits of this agreement, Kobo bringing eBooks to Walmart, and Walmart providing a physical space and physical books for Kobo’s catalog and promotion. Some interesting takeaways from Tamblyn:

-25% of unit sales are from Indy Authors, and it isn’t only from usual genres, e.g. romance, sci-fi, graphic novels. It is cross-genre.
-Kobo’s #1 technical priority right now is on book recommendations
-eBooks: first analog to digital transformation not driven by 18-25 year olds. This category is driven by 45-55 year old women
-In Japan, 60% of Kobo’s sales is manga/graphic novels. Not incredibly surprising since it’s Japan, though 60% is still a large number.

Given the Kobo-Overdrive-Walmart relationship, it’s hard not to see this as the greatest threat to Amazon’s Kindle. One must also wonder how much longer Amazon will allow Overdrive to carry its Kindle exclusively in the library world.

For more on this partnership, see Walmart’s Press Release