I’ve tracked www.Kobobooks.com for several weeks now, keeping my eye on the following things:
- recommended reading lists
- search and sort capabilities
- customer service
- the writing life platform
- the app, the eReader, etc.
My intent has been to deduce whether Kobo seems to understand what it will take to become a serious player in the eBook retail universe currently dominated almost exclusively by Amazon and their Kindle store. My perspective is unabashedly that of an indie author. Today’s post will discuss the Kobo app the eReaders and other random junk. (Follow the linked bullet points for the other posts.)
The Results: Application and Readers
For my final post on my Kobo Books experiment there is a handful of random stuff worth commenting on. First, the application. I read digital content on my iPad, so I am able to use every application in a fairly neutral setting. Sure, iBooks is native to my device and I end up using it more than I would normally due to that fact. iBooks has a great aesthetic and feel to it, but the limitations of the iBooks store keeps me from using it more. Mostly I use it for opening certain .pdf files.
I like the Kobo application the best of all the ones I use on my iPad (and iPhone). It is visually appealing, flexible and easy to navigate. I like the option to see what my other friends using Kobo are reading, and I like the tie-in between Goodreads and Facebook. (If I used a Kindle this option would also be built in, but since I use an iPad, the Kindle app doesn’t facilitate this.)
I love the fact I can easily move books from my desktop to my Kobo library, and that I can keep all sorts of different file formats there as well. I end up using my Kindle app a fair share of the time simply because I have to download stuff from the Kindle store and the Kindle app is the only easy place to access those titles. But if given the choice I would open those titles in a better application (like Kobo).
The main thing that honks me off with my Kobo application is the fact it remains glitchy. About once every few times I open it to read, it will shut off and force me to reopen it. If it was much more frequent I would abandon the application for a less attractive one. This has been happening over the span of several updates, and I’m not sure Kobo will ever address it.
The second short coming of Kobo’s application is it’s inability to access the Kobo store. I know there has to be a story behind this, but I have not studied the matter. Whatever has happened to bring this failing about, it has to be fixed. It’s totally ridiculous in our tech-savvy age to be forced to leave an app and use a separate browser in order to buy/download a book. I’ve never had trouble with my library updating after a download, but not being able to do this from the app is amazingly troublesome.
Kobo eReader Devices
I have never owned a Kobo eReading device, but after the new product releases I’m tempted to buy the Kobo Mini. For its price and size it could be a good compliment to my iPad tablet. Although I might end up getting a larger screen smart phone instead and going that route. I am fairly convinced that the Kindle devices are still some of the best, but I simply don’t like their format/content restrictions. It sucks to be so handcuffed to the Kindle store, so if Kobo can produce a comparable product I would certainly go with them instead. I would love to hear from anyone that has already gotten one of these new Kobo readers.
Other Kobo News
Kobo has been making a handful of bold moves lately, that unfortunately are getting over-shadowed by Amazon. I’ll give the big A credit for not sitting back and resting. They are keeping the pressure on in a big way. But that said, I think Kobo is putting up a good fight. I won’t go into the details, but here are some links to some of the most worthy stories to keep abreast with:
Lion or Kitten: Young Lion
Kobo certainly isn’t king of the pride currently. But I think they have promise to claim the strong niche of the eReader and eReading platform for book lovers. This has been their stated goal. They are a young lion on the prowl, just looking for weakness in the Kindle King. They will never oust Amazon, but they just might win over 5 to 10% of the most important and prolific readers. To do this Kobo will need to:
- continue to improve their reading devices and applications (the future of how people will digest digital content is uncertain to say the least, but with both devices and applications they could cover all bases).
- continue to win over more publishers (both traditional and indie)
- seal up the position of goto platform for indie bookstores
If Kobo does these three things readers will follow. If Kobo can be seen as the company that understands bibliophiles and bookstores, they will guarantee a large and important costumer base.