Kobo Story and Review

This post is longer than it should be because I haven’t written in awhile, my code is taking a long time to compile these days, and it’s my blog so I’ll do what I want. I put headings so you can skip to the actual review part if you so choose

Part 1: Where I talk about when I was an eReader hater, and how I have an impulse shopping problem

I thought about getting an eReader for awhile. First I thought I’d hate it. Then I went to Mexico with my friends for Natalie and August’s wedding in March, and Matt lent me his to read a book on the beach (The Girl Who Played with Fire) while he devoured his newly imported copy of the Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest. It was a great reading experience, made only better by the fact that I was sitting on a hammock in paradise. This device enabled me to hold my mojito and flip the page AT THE SAME TIME! Heaven.

I was still skeptical, if only because during take off/landing my Kindle friends were unable to read. I felt like a hot shot with my paper book – ‘look at me flipping pages’ I taunted ‘who’s reading now?’

Besides the whole airplane thing and the standard “I am a reading snob and only like reading paper books” argument, my other big concern with eReaders was the library factor. I don’t like to buy all the books I read. It’s just too many books. With a Kindle, I’d be stuck paying ~$14 per book. So besides the initial investment in the hardware, there was that to think about.

I ended up in a Chapters to buy my book club book for June [the wait at the library was too long!], and they had Kobos in stock. In black! I played with one, and decided that instead of paying $20 for the hard copy of the book, I would buy a Kobo save $10 when I bought the digital version! Yes, I do understand the flaw in my logic. But you’re not paying my Visa bill so don’t worry.

Here’s why I was okay buying the Kobo, when I wasn’t able to stomach buying the Kindle

  • it was a lot (~$100) cheaper than the Kindle at the time of purchase. Spending $150 is easier for me to take a chance with than $250.
  • i spent time playing on the online Kobo Canadian store, and virtually every book i could think of was there. I did play on the Kindle store and had a very difficult time figuring out whether books I looked at would be able to be purchased in Canada. And when I asked a Canadian Kindle owning friend about a few titles several were not available (including the Girl Who Played With Fire, which I had read on an American Kindle). That said, I did google how to fake out your Kindle into thinking you were American so you could access the US content, but I don’t want to have to transact with Amazon Gift Cards all the time.
  • I found out that the Toronto Public Library has a pretty decent sized collection of eBooks in ePub form which I could read on the Kindle Kobo.
  • Baron had played with his gf Dana’s and confirmed that it was cool – and Dana who is an avid reader confirmed :)
  • It was there and I’m all for immediate gratification

Part 2: Where I talk about what I like and don’t like about my Kobo

I’m not an eReader expert, so take this as what I like and don’t like about my Kobo. I make mention of the Kindle, since that’s the other thing I’ve used, but only for a short time. Basically, if you’re looking for a thorough compare and contrast of different readers this ain’t it.

The bad

  1. Speed: The Kobo is slow to boot up and to load the book. I find it’s worse with books from the library (as opposed to a Kobo generated ePub that I bought from the store). While I wait for things to load I often find myself thinking how nice it used to be to pick up a book and start reading. Once it’s loaded moving between pages is always fine. But I have found things like changing font size or moving chapters take awhile in non-Kobo ePubs.
  2. Navigation: The Kobo makes me click more than I need to. When I start it up, instead of taking me to the last page I was on it takes me to the list of books I’m reading. After waiting for it to start, the extra click (and wait) annoys me. I also dislike how when I click up and down it changes the font size because I sometimes end up triggering that by accident (there’s another way to change font size that requires more clicks – would be happy with just that) and then you have to wait for the new font to render and change it back and wait again (the waiting gets exponentially worse with non-Kobo ePubs).
  3. No Notating Books The ability to put notes in books as your read in the Kindle is really cool. But I never put notes in books I read on paper. I couldn’t justify getting a “neat” feature that I realistically would rarely if ever use. I haven’t once missed it.
  4. No Dictionary When I read the book on the Kindle I loved the dictionary feature. When I don’t know a word as I’m reading, I will normally skip over it since it’ll make sense in context. Having the built in dictionary made me less lazy and I found myself looking up unfamiliar words because I could without disturbing the reading experience. This feature doesn’t exist in the Kobo – but I haven’t once missed having it.
  5. No Search The feature I knew I would miss on the Kobo was search. I always forget who is who in books, so being about to search for their name is awesome and I made full use of that on the Kindle when I read on it (and then had a really hard time with the paper version of GWKTHN – Sweedish names are hard). Again, something I can live without.
  6. No reading while charging Even if I plug mine into the wall (not the computer) the screen likes to tell me it’s charging and won’t let me read. minor annoyance.
  7. Treatment of non-Kobo ePubsThe formatting is often wonky on non-Kobo ePub books. Page numbers appear partway down the screen. And the page count is for the entire book rather than per chapter like the Kobo books. I don’t really mind, but wish all books were treated the same. Also, you can’t use the Kobo software to load them onto the device – instead you need to use Adobe Digital Editions. Would be slicker if I could do it all in one place.

The good

  1. Size My Kobo is teeny tiny – fits into my everyday purse that’s not even hobo style!
  2. Price It’s not so $$ that I have to be paranoid that something is going to happen to it. If I had an iPad I’d think twice before I read next to the pool with it. But this I throw in my purse without a case and don’t worry about. It still looks great!
  3. Screen Great on my eyes. The refresh flicker doesn’t bother me. I normally use the smallest font. I like it at least a million times better than reading on computer. Same as paper
  4. Convenience I always have my Kobo with me. Have been reading a ton more than I used to because I always have my book on hand! Not to mention one handed reading has now let me read when I do things like blow dry my hair. Yes, I read when I blow dry my hair. I also use it in the bath – yay for Ziploc bags!
  5. Standard USB Cables! Kobos use standard USB cables to hook into your computer. This might not be a big deal to some, but for me it is GREAT because I lose everything and have a bunch of these. When I lost the one that came with the Kobo a few days after I bought it (don’t judge) it wasn’t a big deal. AND it can use the wall chargers I have for things like my GPS which has the same connector. Yay for not having to buy $20 cords!
  6. Free Books with short waits! Books that took AGES (months) to get from the library have tiny waiting lists as ePub books. I’ve read things off of best seller lists, my “i should read this” list, and from my “i don’t eat sugar so i can read teenage books if i want to” list. My only problem is that when I put something on the wait list it comes so quickly that I have to be careful not to hold too much at once. Which isn’t really something to complain about. And I have heard that you can find ePubs on some torrent sites as well
  7. Great website The Kobo website is great. I love that I can get lists of books to read containing best sellers from different papers, chic lit etc. I often use the lists to farm ideas of what I’d like to take out of the library. I’ve only bought 2 books so far (I’ve read at least 8). And the Canadian selection is fantastic. I’ve only found one book that I couldn’t find on the website – it was on the Kindle site, but whose to say I could get it in Canada.
  8. Battery life I’ve found the battery life on my Kobo totally fine. It only died once, after about a week and a half (which contained a reading heavy long weekend). I’ve been downloading books so frequently that I will normally plug it in while I’m working to put the book on and just leave it.

Conclusion:

I love my Kobo! Sure, it’s not perfect, but the problems I have are mostly minor annoyances that might even be fixed in later upgrades (yes, I do have the latest upgrade). It didn’t cost a fortune. I’m not spending more on books than I used to. And most importantly, I’m reading more and loving it!

Okay, that was a mouthful. Hopefully someone will find that helpful!

7 Responses to “Kobo Story and Review”

  1. Judy Springer Says:

    Thanks Jenn. Maybe we’ll chat about it sometime in person.
    I found your review very thorough and informative.
    I may just go check it out when I’m next at Chapters Indigo.
    xo Judy

  2. Uma Says:

    Thanks for writing this! My biggest concern was whether I’d have to buy all my books or if the library ebook selection was finally big enough for it to be worth it. Except for the speed, no reading while charging and treatment of non-kobo pubs, the rest of your “bads” aren’t really too bad in my mind, so I may actually try it out.

    I’ll let you know if I end up getting one.

  3. bolinfest Says:

    hi jenn, great post! though just be aware that i don’t sign ebooks ;)

  4. Book review: The Demon Queen and the Locksmith by Spencer Baum « Inside Hawley Lodge Says:

    [...] It’s a fun read, involving mysterious powers delivered by magical sap, an army of evil fire ants, conspiracy theorists and coffee-machines with unexpected qualities. An added bonus for me was the role played in the story by Monarch butterflies, whose life-cycle I find fascinating. The writing is fluid and clear, with no typos that I could see. I enjoyed it as a book from my “i don’t eat sugar so i can read teenage books if i want to” list (as jenn from Toronto so aptly puts it) and it is ideal for its young adult target market. Posted by Amanda Hill Filed in Indie writing, Reviews Leave a Comment » [...]

  5. Chris Says:

    Hi – I have an Astak Mentor, which I understand is the same device under a different name. While I haven’t figured out how to lock the darn thing like I could my previous device (Astak EZReader), I can tell you one happy thing: you don’t need to turn it off. It’s eink, so it only draws power when it changes pages and it won’t get “screen burn” like an LCD device would. That way you’re always on the page at which you stopped reading. Now… If I could just figure out how to lock the screen so I don’t accidentally change pages when it’s stuffed in my bag…

  6. Josh Says:

    Jenn! I suspect you already know and have done this, but the updated Kobo OS now lets you charge and read at the same time.

  7. jenn Says:

    I did an update two weeks ago and it didn’t actually change anything on the unit just the desktop. The upgrade was not smooth and it ended with me on the phone with customer support and them having me reset my device to factory settings (which is a PITA since it resets all of your books to unread etc). So even though I see there’s another desktop upgrade, I’m holding off for a bit to see if folks have problems :)

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