Walmart.com cuts prices on yet-to-be-released books

SAN FRANCISCO Fri Oct 16, 2009 8:32am EDT

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SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Walmart.com is cutting the prices of popular books even before they hit store shelves.

The online division of Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N) said on Thursday that it is pricing the top 10 pre-selling books on its website at $10 each, including free shipping.

The $10 price represent a 66 percent cut on the $28.99 listing price for Sarah Palin's "Going Rogue: An American Life", or a 64 percent cut on the $27.99 price for Michael Crichton's "Pirate Latitudes."

The titles will not ship until November, but eager consumers can now place orders for the books online -- representing "pre-sales."

Walmart.com also said it is rolling out a new book program, called "America's Reading List." Under that program, it is cutting the price of 200 of the nation's best-selling books, including "The Lost Symbol" by Dan Brown, by 50 percent or more from their listing price.

The price cuts come as consumers increasingly buy books from online retailers, like Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O), where prices can be lower than those in brick-and-mortar stores. That trend has hurt sales for traditional booksellers, like Borders Group Inc BGP.N and Barnes & Noble Inc (BKS.N).

Walmart.com's latest announcement also comes as it looks to expand its business ahead of the year-end holiday shopping season. Earlier this week, Walmart.com said it would begin selling health and beauty products online.

While Walmart.com is cutting book prices, Amazon said on Thursday that it is launching same-day delivery service in seven major cities to win sales from last-minute holiday shoppers.

(Reporting by Nicole Maestri; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)

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