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Wal-Mart to Sell Kobo E-Reader in U.S. Next Week

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. will begin selling Kobo Inc. digital book readers at U.S. stores next week, as the world’s largest retailer boosts its hand-held electronic offerings.

Kobo, owned by Indigo Books & Music Inc. and Borders Group Inc., will have its wireless Internet e-reader model sold in 2,500 Wal-Mart stores as early as Oct. 24, Chief Executive Officer Michael Serbinis said in an interview. Kobo devices entered the U.S market in August at Borders stores and have been on sale at Wal-Mart in Canada since May.

“Borders is a household brand name in the U.S. and there are millions of booklovers who go to Borders, but not all books get bought at bookstores,” Serbinis said. “It’s important to have retail distribution outside bookstores.”

Indigo and Borders, the second-largest U.S. bookstore chain, invested in Kobo to take part in the growing digital book market. Indigo, the Toronto-based chain, has a majority stake in Kobo, which it spun off as a separate company last year. Borders owns about 20 percent of Kobo.

Wal-Mart will also begin selling Barnes & Noble Inc.’s Nook e-reading device next week, according to a statement today. Wal-Mart started offering Apple Inc.’s iPad, which can read digital books, earlier this month.

Borders, based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, fell 7 cents, or 5.3 percent, to $1.25 at 4 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. Indigo gained 29 cents to C$14.81 on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Barnes & Noble, based in New York, rose 7 cents to $14.78.

Kobo has more than 1 million customers downloading digital books from over 200 countries, Serbinis said. The e-readers are also sold in Australia and New Zealand.

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