How to Sell eBooks at Walmart


1106 Design

August 29, 2018

Walmart launched its eBook sales platform on August 22 in partnership with Kobo (more properly known as Rakuten Kobo), going head-to-head with Amazon’s Kindle. While Walmart has sold the Kobo eReader for years, it is now making available Kobo’s library of eBooks for individual sale, along with an option to subscribe to audiobooks. Books purchased from Kobo can be read on their branded eReader and also through the Kobo Books app, which can be downloaded on any smartphone or other device.

Walmart’s eBook page can be found here. When you click on a book for more information, you are taken to a Walmart-branded Kobo website. Books deals are on offer, along with a selection of free books.

Of course, Walmart getting into the eBook game means a whole new market for self-published authors, who have always had unfettered access to uploading their eBooks to Kobo and now, by default, also have unfettered access to everyone who shops at Walmart (which is, pretty much, everybody).

Having read the above paragraph, you might be forgiven for opening a new tab in your browser and googling “how to sell eBooks at Walmart.”

Well, I’ll one-up you.

Go to Walmart’s eBook page and do a query on your eBook title. If you have previously uploaded your eBook to IngramSpark and elected to distribute it anywhere in the world, your eBook is already on Kobo and is now available to Walmart eBook customers as well.

If your eBook is not on Kobo yet, you can of course, upload your eBook directly to Kobo. The process does not appear any easier or more difficult than uploading to IngramSpark or KDP. Files must still be in the correct format and Kobo will reject files that are not. It’s best to have a professional prepare your eBook files for you to ensure they are right the first time.

If you have previously uploaded your eBook to IngramSpark, making your eBook available on Kobo, is there any benefit to republishing your book yourself on the Kobo platform? According to Kobo, “When you publish with Kobo Writing Life directly, you do have more control over book price and promotion.”  On Kobo, you can set a sale price or do an eBook giveaway. On IngramSpark, you can set a new price at any time, but the price is applicable across all retailers. More information about publishing directly to Kobo can be found here.

Sounds great, right? There is one big downside: if you publish your eBook directly to Kobo and it previously was published on IngramSpark, you must take the eBook down from IngramSpark. If you delete your eBook from IngramSpark, your eBook is no longer available for sale on ANY of the online retailers or brick-and-mortar stores or libraries that use IngramSpark.

Thus, your choices are as follows:

  • List your eBook yourself on Kobo so that you can hold promotions. Delete your book from IngramSpark (or don’t publish it there in the first place). Go to other bookseller websites such as Barnes & Noble and apply to sell your book on their sites.
  • Publish your eBook on IngramSpark and automatically make it available to Walmart customers along with the other online book retailer websites. Get sales reports from one handy dashboard.

Note that we are only talking about eBooks here. These rules do not apply to paperback or hardcover books. Currently, expanded distribution on IngramSpark does not include distribution of paperbacks and hardcover books to Walmart.

Bottom line, Amazon may soon have some real competition from Walmart for eBook sales. The idea of being able to promote more aggressively on Kobo to Walmart eBook customers using reduced pricing and book giveaways sounds appealing. However, the actual marketing of the book still comes down to the author, and if you’re going to reduce the book price or have a giveaway, you still need to publicize the book. You can still have a sale on Kobo if you reduce the eBook price on IngramSpark, but your price would be reduced on all retail outlets including Kobo. That’s actually a good thing because people can buy your eBook using their retailer of choice.

Anyhow, six of one,half dozen of the other as they say. Choices are always good.

Get your eBook ready for upload to IngramSpark, Kobo, KDP or for sales through your website. Contact us to discuss eBook formatting.

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