Walmart is coming for the king of audiobooks.
Today Walmart launched a digital store for ebooks and audiobooks with Kobo, a Canadian digital book retailer owned by the Japanese company Rakuten.
The audiobook subscription, at $9.99 a month, is a clear attempt to win price-conscious readers away from Amazon, which itself relies on dirt-cheap prices. Audible, which is owned by Amazon and is the largest retailer and producer of audiobooks in the world, prices its subscription at $14.95 per month. Both subscriptions come with one monthly audiobook.
Walmart also released an app. Its audio interface comes with the basics—sleep timer and playback speed—but doesn’t have Audible’s souped up features like car mode or bookmarks.
Though raw sales numbers are still small compared to print books, audiobooks are growing quickly, and the format is a bright spot for book publishing.
Everyone, it seems, is trying to figure out what people will pay for this promising book format. In January, Google added audiobooks to its Play store, and doesn’t require a subscription at all.
But since Audible also makes its own audiobooks, which it sells exclusively, it’s still ahead of Apple, Walmart, and Google. Michael Lewis’s latest works, Andy Weir’s Artemis, Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime, and the upcoming audiobook of Emily Wilson’s translation of The Odyssey, are only available in audio there.