Digital Reading Finds a New Home at Walmart


Shoppers have long expected to find everything they need at Walmart (WMT), from groceries to guns to magazines and furniture. Now customers will find the latest electronic readers at one of the country's largest discount department stores.

As of Oct. 24, Barnes & Noble's (BKS) Nook e-reader -- both the 3G and WiFi models -- will be stocked in 2,500 Walmart stores. The largest book retailer touts in a release that the device "will be prominently featured as the premier e-book reader in the consumer electronics area," part of a branded e-reading section where shoppers will be able to see and handle an array of devices on display.

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One of those other devices will be the wireless e-reader made by Kobo. Until now, it was only available in the U.S. at Borders (BGP) stores, the book retailer that owns a small stake in Canadian-based Kobo. The Kobo reader will be available in 2,500 Walmart stores as of next week, building on a relationship that began when the company stocked the e-reader in Walmart Canada. Walmart already carries the Sony (SNE) e-reader and, more recently, Apple's (AAPL) iPad.

With so many e-reading devices available or soon to be available at Walmart, only one outcome seems possible: a price war just in time for the holiday season. E-reader prices already dropped considerably last June, when B&N slashed the Nook 3G to $199 and its WiFi model to $149, followed in turn by Amazon (AMZN) dropping the price on its two Kindle models to $189 and $139, respectively. (The Kindle, it should be noted, is the most prominent e-reader Walmart isn't stocking -- at least not yet.)

With Thanksgiving just a month away and Christmas well in sight, the timing is perfect for further e-reader price reductions -- which is equally in keeping with Walmart's ethos of "always low prices."