Dear Walmart, you don't have to copy everything Amazon does

Walmart has a great new idea. It's called e-books.
Written by Chris Matyszczyk, Contributing Writer

I admire those with true confidence.

These words, published today, seemed to encompass it: "We're really excited about this new category, and we know our customers will be too."

The words came from Walmart. This was clearly significant.

Also: Walmart store-scanning robot gets big boost

My eyes began to focus on the actual category that was so exciting.

Oh. It was e-books.

Yes, the grocery chain is creating Walmart eBooks, with its partner Rakuten Kobo. Yours for just $9.99, including audiobook subscription.

Kobo has been around for a while without, to my life-addled eyes, impacting the world in any overwhelming way.

I always thought that anyone who believes e-books are a fine thing automatically gravitated to a Kindle, because they're cheap, and Amazon incentivizes enthusiastically to make them even cheaper.

Also: The best back-to-school deals from Walmart CNET

Personally, I find the e-book experience emotionally distressing. Technology doesn't improve everything. Paper books still have a glorious smell, a wonderful feel, and their sheer physicality gives them a certain substance.

Oddly enough, last year e-books sales actually fell by 10 percent.

So, I worry about Walmart's emotional state. I fear that it has the sort of thing about Amazon that Samsung has about Apple.

Indeed, large brains have expressed concern in the Harvard Business Review that Walmart's whole strategy revolves around dressing itself up as its apparent rival, rather than, say, remind people how cheap it is.

Then again, some -- Walmart, for example -- believe the grocery chain's e-commerce operation is showing enormous promise, especially after the acquisitions of Jet.com and Flipkart.

I asked Amazon whether it felt flattered by Walmart's latest foray into Amazonian territory and will update, should I hear.

I want to help Walmart. After all, the evidence seems to be that it wants to do everything that Amazon does, good or bad.

A streaming video service is promised. Might Walmart start to produce TV shows like Amazon's Transparent?

Then there's the desperate need for a Walmart Prime. What could make it different from Amazon's very successful membership wheeze? Perhaps it could have several levels.

Walmart Primitive. For every $100 a week you spend with us, you get $1 toward a vacation in Bentonville, Arkansas!

Walmart Primo. For every $200 a week you spend with us, you get $1 in Walmart shares!

Walmart Premier. For every $500 a week you spend with us, you get your own personalized, W-shaped drone to make your delivery!

There's one more thing that comes to mind.

Also: Walmart testing fully-automated store with no cashiers TechRepublic

Walmart should create SpaceW.

It could boast that its rockets are cheaper than anyone else's. It could even send up a rocket with cheap supplies to a space station, something that would surely be celebrated across the land.

And can you imagine all the Walmart greeters dressed up as astronauts?

15 companies you might not know are owned by Amazon (and one that got dumped for a huge loss)

Previous and related coverage:

Walmart reportedly exploring cashier-less stores

Walmart is exploring an in-store shopping experience without checkout lines or cashiers, called Project Kepler, according to Recode.

Walmart says e-commerce will grow at 40 percent clip

Walmart's omnichannel retail and e-commerce bets are paying off as the company aims to bridge physical and digital shopping experiences.

Editorial standards