The Kobo Glo HD is a Serious Threat to Kindle, But Kobo Is Not


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If Kobo operated with the same ruthless killer instinct as Amazon, the new Kobo Glo HD could be a major game-changer in the ebook reader industry.

The Glo HD is essentially an updated, better version of the Kindle Paperwhite, and it sells in the same price range. What’s more, the Glo HD took the best feature from the Kindle Voyage, the 300 pixel-per-inch E Ink Carta display, and it sells for $70 less.

At $200 for the ad-ridden version and $220 without ads, complaints that the Kindle Voyage is too overpriced are going to escalate even more.

Having to pay an extra $70-$90 for the Kindle Voyage seems like a pretty steep climb just for the added page sensor buttons that only work in portrait mode, an automatically adjusting frontlight that never quite adjusts how I’d like it, and a flush capacitive touchscreen.

The Kobo Glo HD has some software advantages over Kindles too. There’s the added support for ePub, and a couple other formats. But the biggest advantage with Kobo’s software is all the extra font options. There are more font types to choose from, plus you can easily add your own. There are more adjusting options; one of the best is being able to modify weight to make text appear bolder and darker.

The Kobo Glo HD definitely has some good things going for it, and it stands up against the current line of Kindles very well, especially with a price tag of $129, but how much of a difference is any of that really going to make?

The problem with Kobo is . . . they’re Kobo. They’ve already shown that they have little interest in the US market. How can anyone expect Kobo to take on Amazon in their home market when Kobo doesn’t even make their ereaders accessible to customers in the US?

Kobo pulled out of all major retail stores in the US a few years ago. Pretty much the only way to get a Kobo ereader in the US is to order it sight-unseen from a Canadian retailer like Chapters.Indigo or from Kobo.com. Maybe some random independent bookseller in a small town in Montana has one Kobo ereader in stock to sell, but you can hardly consider that a retail presence.

Until Kobo makes an effort to accommodate the US market, one of the biggest ebook/ereader markets in the world, they have no chance of seriously contending with the Kindle no matter how good or how cheap their devices are, because the simple fact is the vast majority of people in the US have never even heard of Kobo, and Amazon is Amazon.

If Amazon started offering a Kindle Paperwhite HD tomorrow for $149, they’d still probably have no trouble selling ten times as many as Kobo would the Glo HD, despite the price increase, because everyone is familiar with Kindles and Amazon, whereas most people don’t know anything about Kobo, and Kobo has shown very little effort to change that.

19 Responses to “The Kobo Glo HD is a Serious Threat to Kindle, But Kobo Is Not”

  1. Meanwhile Amazon is appears to be continuing the trend of releasing it’s high-end reader in Canada just in time for the next gen model to arrive in the U.S. and other select countries.

  2. Amen to Kobo’s US distribution. It’s like they don’t *want* to sell their products in the US and hurt Kindle sales.

    Kind of makes you wonder about some sort of agreement between the two to divide up the North American market

  3. This Kobo Glo HD could be also named Sony T4, what do you think about ?

  4. But don’t you still need Adobe digital editions to download books from Overdrive? That requires an extra step that looks ridiculous when Kindles are wireless.

    • Yep. Kobo’s parent company, Rakuten, recently purchased OverDrive, though, so Kobo should be making library lending easier moving forward. Right now there’s no question the Kindle has a huge advantage in that regard. No one should have to install ADE for anything; I won’t even allow Adobe’s shady, no-good ebook software on my computers anymore.

      • Hmm… what do you mean? Shady. I know they got hacked a while back. Also, OverDrive had made downloading the app easier as far as getting the Adobe id for tablets etc. The last time I went to download a book from my library Overdrive platform and I chose the Kindle, there was a message saying OverDrive couldn’t guarantee the privacy of my information, meaning Amazon. Is this just cya in case anything happens since Amazon is a commerce site? Or is it more of the animosity between Amazon and the Epub community?

        • Adobe’s whole operation is shady when it comes to ebooks. They sell a fear-based service (DRM) that is supposed to stop piracy but it doesn’t whatsoever—it’s like a company that sells safes with locks that don’t work—it just makes getting ebooks a hassle for the average consumer and adds to the overall cost of ebooks.

          I guess OverDrive gives the privacy disclaimer for Amazon because Amazon knows everything about what Kindle library books you get since it goes through their system, and OverDrive has no way of knowing or controlling what Amazon does with that information after it’s collected.

  5. I wanted to love Kobo and support an alternative to Amazon. I bought the Aura after having a Kindle Touch for several years and quite like the hardware, with the flush screen and smaller size. This was pre-Voyage and it seemed even nicer than the Paperwhite in many aspects. The software on the reader was generally pleasant to use, although occasionally slow. I don’t mind paying a few extra dollars for ebooks if they can’t match Amazon’s pricing if the hardware is good, and Kobo of course supports ePub natively.

    However, the Kobo iOS and Android apps are garbage. Slow and limited, especially the Android app. The lack of cloud sync for “personal documents” / DRM-free third-party ebooks was frustrating comparing to Amazon.

    The final straw is the lack of support. My screen died and the Kobo rep was rude and refused to cover any aspect of the failure. They wouldn’t even let me mail the Aura myself to them so they could inspect it directly.

    I’ve known so many people who have been treated exceptionally by Amazon when their Kindle died or was broken. If it wasn’t covered under warranty, they gave them discounts on new models. Amazon generally understood that they were making their money on longterm customers buying ebooks, and not being stingy with hardware coverage so users felt comfortable investing in their ecosystem. I don’t expect to be pandered to but Kobo was uninterested in my future business and at the end of the day, I just want to read books and not be hassled if my reader breaks.

    It’s unfortunate how close Kobo is to being viable, as their products are actually good. but just refuses to go that extra mile to compete. Amazon needs the competition in the U.S. but no one is stepping up, and their user experience is just far superior to anyone else.

  6. aww and i just order the 99$ kindle paperwhite and i read about this kobo.

    since i dont live in us, am i actually better not buying paperwhite and waiting for kobo instead?

  7. Kobo Glo is me 3.13.1 software version. Unfortunately, many times the system freezes . Can you help me ?!

  8. Thank you very much! I do not know , but I’ll try to refresh ! 🙂

  9. I do not know how to upgrade! Can you help? And whence you download ?

  10. Thank you very much!

  11. I am a professional mariner, spending long periods of time at sea and spend most inport time in non-US ports. I’ve decided that an e-reader would suit my needs, but I am torn between Amazon’s Kindle Voyage and Kobo Glo HD. On the one hand I like the thought of EPUB compatibility, but I also need a painless solution. I’m leery of joining Amazon ecosystem, but at the same time wondering if doing so wouldn’t be the best choice. I would appreciate any informed opinions. Thanks.

  12. Why do these ebook reader reviews keep harping on “stores”? it is moronic. No serious eReader fan uses anything other than the free software program Calibre to manage their libraries anyway and Calibre converts any format you buy to whatever device you own.

    You want a book from Amazon? Buy it from Amazon and load it on your Kobo. Want one from Barnes and Nobel? Same. Kobo, same.

    Quit acting like blind idiots during these “reviews” and quit pandering to the Amazon party line about store size. Ridiculous.

    • Your comment makes zero sense in context with this article and the other comments. Normally I’d just mark it as spam and move on but it’s not quite spam either. Whatever, I got better things to do…

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