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Just remember that Kobo Plus was set up because BOL asked Kobo to set it up. There is no evidence that Kobo shares the views of some in this thread that to challenge Amazon you must create an Epub Unlimited. In fact there is no evidence that Kobo Plus will ever branch out further than the Low Countries. Kobo follows the Chapters model of tying up with print retailers and most of them are not looking for a library service to reduce their epub and print sales..
 

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The Fussy Librarian said:
I think the big difference is that Bezos, as the majority shareholder of Amazon, has always been willing to take on losses in order to capture retail segments. The Walton family, in contrast, has always been about maximizing profit. The two companies just have fundamentally different approaches.

I would love to see more competition for Amazon, but I'm skeptical of Walmart launching a KU-type program.

Jeffrey
This is starting to change. McMillon and Lore have been making a lot of moves and the board is getting dragged along behind whether they want to or not. They just overpaid for controlling shares of a store in India that Amazon was interested in. The shareholders are definitely complaining, but Lore and McMillon don't really care.

JWright said:
Walmart isn't exactly known for its ethics, or treating employees or the communities it operates in well. It is not exactly the company I would like to see give Amazon and/or KU a run for its money. I'm not confident writers would be treated well in any subscription service headed by them.
This is would be true as few as five years ago, but recently the current CEO and the e-commerce CEO have been making huge improvements. In fact, working for Walmart is actually better than working at an Amazon warehouse. They've increased the pay, improved the benefits, and several other things. They are no longer the bad guys on the block.
 

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Yes, I have heard working in Amazon warehouses is bad.  I'm happy to hear Walmart is making changes. 

As a reader, I have both KU and Scribd subscriptions.  I do like Scribd better and might end up getting rid of my KU one.  I don't know how long Scribd will be able to afford unlimited reading again.
 

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RPatton said:
This is starting to change. McMillon and Lore have been making a lot of moves and the board is getting dragged along behind whether they want to or not. They just overpaid for controlling shares of a store in India that Amazon was interested in. The shareholders are definitely complaining, but Lore and McMillon don't really care.

Perhaps. Last time I checked, the Walton family controlled 51 percent of the company so Lore and McMillion are still going to have to listen to the family.
 

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JWright said:
Yes, it is possible. Walmart could get good people to run a subscription program or just a serious contender could force Amazon to up their game. I don't know why Google and Apple don't try to do more. We shall see! I definitely think some company should give Amazon a run for their money.
I think we're all hoping Kobo/Walmart will force Amazon to up its game. Google and Apple don't really compete with Amazon because their ebook programs are far from their core competencies. It's a niche neither sees as a big moneymaker. Hopefully, though, Apple is moving in the right direction towards providing more content as their hardware sales plateau. On the other hand, Kobo/Walmart are both very experienced in selling digital content online and their partnership could be a game changer.
 

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just got an email from KWL

As you have may have heard, Kobo is going to be launching with Walmart in the US very soon. We wanted to let you know that due to a limitation on Walmart.com's side, they are not able to accept book descriptions longer than 4000 characters. This limit includes spaces, punctuation, and all embedded HTML. A description that is longer than 4000 characters will not completely block the book from being sent to Walmart.com, but it will result in the description showing as blank on Walmart product pages.
This sounds to me like they are very close to pulling the trigger. I'm thinking back-to-school launch? That's huge at Walmart, and a lot of states drop their sales tax during that period. Perfect for a product launch if you don't want to wait for the holiday season.
 

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KelliWolfe said:
just got an email from KWL

This sounds to me like they are very close to pulling the trigger. I'm thinking back-to-school launch? That's huge at Walmart, and a lot of states drop their sales tax during that period. Perfect for a product launch if you don't want to wait for the holiday season.
Probably yeah in Sep. IIRC products launched in July/August usually fail, so most companies wait to announce stuff in September.
 

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Bards and Sages (Julie) said:
Because you don't beat Amazon at their own game. KU is an artificial system that was never designed to be sustainable. WalMart doesn't mind losing money in the short term, but doesn't deliberately build programs that can't be sustainable.

I work in contract packaging. Every single one of our clients deals with Walmart. Which means we deal with Walmart. There is no reason for WalMart to lose money on this program. They can set up a subscription program designed to make a profit and have plenty of inventory by simply ignoring the authors who are in KU exclusively. I am in every subscription service that doesn't require exclusivity. As has already been mentioned, the majority pay a percentage of the list based on how much of the book is read. And Walmart is plenty smart enough to place caps on the list (so nobody can list their 5000 word story for $19.99 and expect to get paid $19.99) and even....gasp...curate their inventory (like they already do with everything else) to make sure the books in the program were actually books.

With the huge amount of data WalMart has, they could kill it with a subscription service if they invested on the front end with curation and set up. And there are plenty of publishers and authors who would be happy to sign up. Amazon is vulnerable right now because it really is a mess. KU is flooded with scam books. Authors are frustrated. Readers are frustrated. WalMart doesn't NEED to become Amazon...it needs to do what Amazon can't or won't...which is provide a functional subscription service that isn't flooded with junk.
I think it's interesting how many people seem to want Kobo-Walmart to copy Amazon when KU is such a train wreck. I agree that, if Walbo wants to take on Amazon, the best strategy would be to learn from Amazon's mistakes and build a better subscription service. That would mean more human curation --and hence more overhead--but it might be a bigger draw than KU because there would be less junk to plow through. The trads might be more receptive to it, too. I know at one time they were more receptive to Scribd.

As others have said, Walmart isn't known for books, but that doesn't mean Walmart shoppers aren't book buyers or that they wouldn't be interesting in a reasonably priced subscription service. Sure, it isn't going to start with a base as big as Amazon's. When Amazon started, it had nowhere near the base of either Barnes and Noble or Borders and had to spend a ton of money on advertising to get its name out there. Rome wasn't built in a day--and neither will any successful competitor for Amazon be.
 

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KelliWolfe said:
This is why I said they should drop exclusivity. They still deny the books to KU and encourage readers to go to Walmart.com because of the cheap subscription price. They're not in competition with B&N/Google Play/iTunes/Kobo. They can afford to ignore them. By giving authors access to a profitable subscription system while still being allowed to publish to the other channels, they'd have a big hose to drain the KU pond. Plus they could pick up a whole lot of books that aren't in KU because the authors don't want to be exclusive with Amazon. Content-wise they might very well come out way ahead of KU.

Edit: Walmart's online business sucks. It's tiny compared to everything else, even with the online grocery ordering they added a couple of years back. If they're going to compete with Amazon they have to get more customers to Walmart.com. This is why IMHO it would be smart of them to operate any subscription service as Amazon does KU - focus on taking market share away from the competition and getting people into the store. The subscription service itself doesn't need to be profitable if it's doing those things. Play Amazon's own game and beat them at it by offering better terms to the content providers. Not only do they not lose anything by it, they've got a lot to gain. There are millions of books not in KU that they could gather into their own subscription service as an incentive to readers, and end up with a much bigger pool of books than KU.
Excellent points.

Now, let us see if Kobo / Walmart are smart enough to actually do this. And savvy enough to do it right so that it isn't overtaken by scammers.

Not paying bonuses would be one way to discourage scammers, in my opinion.

Another is software that actually monitors pages read, rather than just checking for the highest page-number viewed. Make the authors earn page-read money by, you know, publishing books that get read.
 

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Bill Hiatt said:
I think it's interesting how many people seem to want Kobo-Walmart to copy Amazon when KU is such a train wreck. I agree that, if Walbo wants to take on Amazon, the best strategy would be to learn from Amazon's mistakes and build a better subscription service. That would mean more human curation --and hence more overhead--but it might be a bigger draw than KU because there would be less junk to plow through. The trads might be more receptive to it, too. I know at one time they were more receptive to Scribd.
The best way to force Amazon to fix the train wreck that is KU is to have some more competition. If Amazon has to compete for authors with Kobo/WalMart, the situation will improve one way or another (either Amazon gets better, or shits the bed and everyone frolicks in Kobo's heavenly meadows forever).
 

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Discussion Starter · #51 ·
I was just on the Walmart website yesterday and noticed that it has been completely revamped.  They're certainly pushing hard on the changes.

One other thing I've been wondering about is Microsoft and Apple.  Within the last year, Apple announced that they're creating an Itunes app for the Microsoft store, which might even be automatically installed on all Windows computers with Windows updates.  Apple has also been in the process of separating Ibooks out of Itunes.  What I'm wondering is if Apple will duplicate that and create an Ibooks app for the Microsoft store and install that on all Windows computers when Microsoft does its updates.  Both companies have been dead silent on the issue.  But if you're trying to keep something secret from Jeff Bezos, that's what you do.  But why wouldn't they duplicate what they're doing with the Itunes app with the Ibooks app?  Even more interestingly, both Apple and Microsoft have tons of money for running a KU-like service.  The potential is there.

 

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JWright said:
Walmart isn't exactly known for its ethics, or treating employees or the communities it operates in well. It is not exactly the company I would like to see give Amazon and/or KU a run for its money. I'm not confident writers would be treated well in any subscription service headed by them.
"Oh, Walmart killed Main Street, all the stores have shut down / Yes, Walmart killed Main Street, took the whole downtown" - Voodoo Highway

Just saying...

CHeers,
Ruairi
 

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Avis Black said:
I was just on the Walmart website yesterday and noticed that it has been completely revamped. They're certainly pushing hard on the changes.

One other thing I've been wondering about is Microsoft and Apple. Within the last year, Apple announced that they're creating an Itunes app for the Microsoft store, which might even be automatically installed on all Windows computers with Windows updates. Apple has also been in the process of separating Ibooks out of Itunes. What I'm wondering is if Apple will duplicate that and create an Ibooks app for the Microsoft store and install that on all Windows computers when Microsoft does its updates. Both companies have been dead silent on the issue. But if you're trying to keep something secret from Jeff Bezos, that's what you do. But why wouldn't they duplicate what they're doing with the Itunes app with the Ibooks app? Even more interestingly, both Apple and Microsoft have tons of money for running a KU-like service. The potential is there.
Microsoft already has a bookstore.

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/books
 

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Discussion Starter · #57 ·
GeneDoucette said:
Microsoft already has a bookstore.

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/books
Yes they do, but it's not a self-publishing portal akin Amazon's or Apple's setup. You have to jump through hoops if you want to publish on Microsoft. That's why I see room for potential there. Microsoft has been trying to bribe people to use features like its browser by giving them redeemable points if they do so. If you're trying to bribe people to use your services, you're pretty desperate.
 

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Ruairi said:
"Oh, Walmart killed Main Street, all the stores have shut down / Yes, Walmart killed Main Street, took the whole downtown" - Voodoo Highway

Just saying...

CHeers,
Ruairi
Yeah, it's great if there have been improvements and serious competition to Amazon would be good, but it's really hard for me to get excited about Walmart becoming a player with a subscription service and/or ebook store.

It's true that not many could seriously compete with Amazon, but I feel like saying anyone but them please.
 

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Avis Black said:
Yes they do, but it's not a self-publishing portal akin Amazon's or Apple's setup. You have to jump through hoops if you want to publish on Microsoft. That's why I see room for potential there. Microsoft has been trying to bribe people to use features like its browser by giving them redeemable points if they do so. If you're trying to bribe people to use your services, you're pretty desperate.
I get what you're saying, but i'm not so sure companies like Microsoft value self-publishing in the way we would like them to. It might be considerably less of a hassle to go out and strike deals with the publishers to carry their books and be done with it. They might not see a self-publishing platform as added value.
 

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Discussion Starter · #60 ·
GeneDoucette said:
I get what you're saying, but i'm not so sure companies like Microsoft value self-publishing in the way we would like them to. It might be considerably less of a hassle to go out and strike deals with the publishers to carry their books and be done with it. They might not see a self-publishing platform as added value.
What I'm thinking is that Apple may very well be aiming to get its Ibooks app on all Microsoft computers. As of this date, you can only buy Apple books on Apple devices, which limits what Apple can earn via its bookstore. But most PCs are Windows PCs. Microsoft would be in partnership as a platform, but allowing Apple to sell through them. Microsoft would get a cut, yet not 'be a bookstore', because that's what their partner Apple would be doing. That way Microsoft gets a cut of the earnings, but Apple would deal with all the hassle of managing the books.

Microsoft would have to do very little to start earning money from this arrangement, which may cause them to try it.
 
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