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Kobo App for iPad (and website) -- when one or two ereaders are just too few

  • Feb 16, 2011

This review covers only the Kobo app for the iPad and the Kobo website, not the physical ereader.
The thumbnail recommendation for this app+website is due to how well the ereader is integrated with the website.  The motto is eReading.anywhere.anytime and that is no exaggeration.  Buy a book, begin reading it on your ereader.  Log on to the website and go to your library; select the book you’re currently reading and the site will take you to the last page your read on the ereader (currently the reverse is not true).  We don’t buy ebooks to read on computer screens, but if your ereader is charging or you don’t currently have it with you (a nearly impossible thought for me), you still have access to books you paid for wherever you can access the Internet. 

The app.  It is a free app for the iPad and comes with 5 free books (Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Alice in Wonderland, Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Dracula, andPride and Prejudice).  The choice is odd and Alice would be the only one “required” because it is illustrated, giving you a sense for illustration and text instead of text alone (iBook uses Winnie-the-Pooh to the same end).  It is easily customizable.  Currently there are 4 fonts and a slider bar for fine-tuning font size and brightness controls.  It allows for page sliding, fading, and animated page flip.  Since Kobo accepts publications that are not the standard left+right justified, it has the option of changing the justification.  I mention that because the default when I opened my first book was left justified, had I not found that option, I was going to delete the app.  As with the other ereaders, you can highlight and make notes.  It also has a solid dictionary and quick access to Google and Wikipedia. 

The major drawback in the current version (4.2) is that the ereader does not contain a search function.  I think this is because, rather than keep the whole book in memory, it loads one chapter at a time.  I’ve sent a recommendation to add a search feature in upcoming releases.  Also, for the iPad, the hyperlinks to endnotes do not work, the notes are obviously links but pressing them does not take you to that part of the book. 

Book and periodical selection. Kobo appears to have more books available than currently available in the iBook store but fewer than Amazon’s for the Kindle.  It also has about a dozen, strangely arcane magazines: American Scholar, Guideposts, China Business instead of Time, Rolling Stone etc.  And it has the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and all major Canadian newspapers (all come with 2 weeks free subscriptions).  The book prices are competitive and I typically get two email coupons weekly, so far.

The main review is over and what follows does not affect my rating, but I cannot leave it uncommented.  Version 4.2 introduced an optional feature called “Reading Life” (with an option to link with Facebook).  It’s a silly train wreck—it is impossible to turn away from train wrecks of any size, the silly ones just allow for guilt-free laughter.  “Achievements” in video games and “badges” on Lunch are now facets of our interactive lives and for adults, the idea seems to be fun and campy.  But being awarded the Knight Rider award for reading through the night is truly silly and something I would be far too embarrassed on Facebook—being awarded anything for insomnia is a very bad idea; that is not a condition anyone would want to encourage.  And given how much I read, if I posted even half of these odd milestones, my wall would bog down and all my friends would block my posts due to frequency as much as silliness.  But there is one handy feature that makes it impossible for me to turn it off.  It keeps a running list of all notes in all texts, so I don’t have to open the book then look for it, I can scroll down through all my notes and link back to the book.


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March 16, 2011
Great review, Paul! This sounds like it has a lot of cool features...I'm forever losing my place in books since I tend to read more than one at a time, so I'd love the feature that takes you to the last page you were on. I also like that it has access to Wikipedia, Google and a dictionary. Thanks for sharing!
February 23, 2011
I've Kobo in my Samsung Galaxy Tab (Android 2.2) but I haven't found a book I'd love to buy though. There is only one free books that's been downloaded! So far, it's not doing much for me. But I found another apps for the magazines and I'm thinking of subscribing to some of those. That looks a lot more interesting. Just one question though, books you buy, I presume they'd be downloaded to the device and you don't need internet access to read them later, do you? So far, I'm not ecstatics about Kobo, that's all I can say :-)
February 16, 2011
Great review!
More Kobo App for iPad (and website... reviews
Quick Tip by . April 08, 2011
posted in iPad Buzz
I use the Kobo app for my Samsung Galaxy Tab since it came preloaded. Kobo is a Canadian based company (headquartered in Toronto) and offers a 35% discount for first e-book. Currently, it has on offer a 20% off selected books until Apr. 10 with the coupon code apr8ww20. So, it's a reasonably good deal. Do take note that some books are not on tablets yet which means you can only download them into your PC or iPad (if available).       Kobo is relatively easy to use. However, …
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Paul Savage ()
I name and describe everything and classify most things. If 'it' already had a name, the one I just gave it is better.
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