A week with my kobo eReader

Look at that, the book I’m reading.

The first thing I thought upon picking up the Kobo Clara HD was, “Wow this is crazy lightweight.” Then I put it to sleep after loading the book I’m currently reading, and WTH??? The screen is the cover of the book I’m reading! What? No stupid typewriter keys? No old time-y pens arrayed to look like a cracked screen? I mean, what? Not only that, there’s a little info bar you can activate to show your progress on the book cover you’re seeing.

I know it’s a small thing, seeing the cover of the book you’re reading, but book covers are

1. often pretty nice, why not showcase them.

2. A great conversation starter. Your ereader is laying there, letting people know what you’re reading. As an author, I’ll take all the marketing I can get :)

3. if given the choice of book cover or weird fountain pen caps, I know what I’d choose, every time.

Silos

I mean it’s cool that Kindles are tied into Goodreads, but I think I’m happy to trade that for seeing what I’m reading. I’ve reinstalled the Goodreads app on my phone, so when I start something new I’ll have to at some point open the app and update my status. The ease of use the Kindle/Goodreads connection offers is also part of the problem. Goodreads was a place for readers to collect, and still is, but now it’s more a place for kindle readers to collect. It’d be nice if Kobo integrated (there is, surprisingly, an API) but I’m guessing there’s a reason they don’t.

Buying books is just as seamless as on amazon, and because Amazon is so aggressive with price matching, it’s unlikely you’ll find a book on Kobo that costs more than it’s counterpart on Amazon. A few minutes after purchase it’s on your device ready to be read.

Kobo, like Amazon, appears to let Publishers pick DRM or no. Kobo supports Adobe Digital Editions. Thankfully Calibre can strip that pointless crap with ease. It’s actually easier to strip than Amazon’s propriatary DRM schema. So that’s a bonus.

I don’t advocate pirating eBooks but advocate loudly that DRM is useless (See above) and harms the legitimate owner of content more than it even slightly inconveniences pirates. Thankfully it’s mostly the idiotic larger trad publishers that still think DRM makes sense, and I don’t buy much of their stuff.

Kobo Home screen

User Experience

Enjoyable is an understatement. I mean there’s not a lot you can do on a small eInk screen. You can see it looks similar to what Kindles offer.

It changes as you read things, updating reco’s etc. You can sign into Pocket, which is nice since I tend to hoard things in Pocket, forgetting to open the desktop app, maybe I’ll read more of my articles now LOL.

The screen is responsive and bright. The intelligent back lighting is nice. I know more recent Kindles have this, my 2018 Paperwhite did not. Not only does it shift brightness but color temperature.

My Progress in Annalee Newitz’s ‘Autonmous’

The other thing that’s kinda cool and I’m only just getting to dig into, is that you can see some neat graphs of your reading progress.

Library Management

I like that on Device, the Kobo automatically has a “series” view so I can view my books by series. The Author view isn’t just a list of all books, sorted by author name like the Kindle (Unless I just never did it right). It’s a view of author names with the number of books by that author. So I can quickly go to Terry Brooks, then his books, for example.

Is my screen broken? No just fountain pen nibs…

Of course, there are also collections; I have Scifi, Fantasy, Writing, Business and Unread, as I did before, but now I don’t need to have a Star Wars collection, because I have the series view, likewise Star Trek, or the Frontiers Saga or Omega Force (which is sadly in Kindle Unlimited, so I’m done with that until Joshua Dalzelle takes it wide. ).

I’ve mentioned Calibre in this and my last post, it’s a great desktop tool for managing your ebook files. What’s nice is it has drivers for Amazon and Kobo devices (it seems the Kobo stuff offers more/better integration than Amazon firmware) so you can manage and organize your library then upload to your device. Collections and series data upload as well so when you go to your device, everything is already sorted. With my Kindle it would all dump to the main screen then I’d have to sort into the proper collections. Add to that of course It’d yell at me that my side loaded books wouldn’t sync.

Uploading to the Kobo has proven quite easy, I’m very happy so far with the experience.

Online Library Management

The one place where Kobo falls down is their online library. So long as you’re buying books on Amazon, you can assign them to a collection right from your account pages. It’s not perfect and you can only do it once, but it’s a great way to do initial sorting triage.

On kobo you see all your books and can archive them, that’s it. No organization of any type. You can download your books from that screen, so that’s about its only real use.

In Conclusion

It’s been a week, I’m happy with my choice, I don’t miss the Kindle, and while I’m sure to miss out on stuff that is Kindle Unlimited only, that’s just how it has to be. Thankfully my ebook library is thousands of books, many I’ve not yet read, and as many I’d read again happily.

By John Wilker

I'm a science fiction writer and conference organizer. In 2017 I published my first book, 'Space Rogues', a fun Sci-Fi adventure with a fun cast of characters. I'm also the co-founder of 360|Conferences, a conference and event logistics consulting company.

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