Tips for Buying Kobo eReaders in the United States


Kobo eReaders

Ever since Kobo decided to stop selling their ebook readers in the United States from major retail stores a few years back, it’s been a lot harder to obtain Kobo’s devices without a trip to Canada.

There are only a couple of ways to buy Kobo ereaders in the US. In this article I’ll explain the best way to go and how the process works.

Also, as a bonus I’ll tell you how you can get a new Kobo Glo HD for approximately $100 USD.

Yeah, you read that right. You can get a Glo HD for half the price of a Kindle Voyage, and it comes with the same exact 300 ppi E Ink screen. All you have to do is use Visa Checkout to get 20% off at Chapters.Indigo (the deal expires May 31st, 2015, and works with Kobo’s other ereaders as well).

Since Kobo’s ereaders aren’t sold in retail stores in the US, you can’t try them out in stores before buying like Kindles. You have to order online sight unseen and hope everything turns out well, and if there’s a problem with a device, returning or exchanging it is going to be a headache.

You can’t just login to your account and print out a return shipping label in under 2 minutes like you can when returning a Kindle to Amazon. You’ll have to contact Kobo and go through a long drawn-out process, and you’ll have to pay return shipping to send it back to Canada—be aware of this before ordering.

So here are the different ways to order Kobo ereaders in the US:

Chapters.Indigo

The best place to order a Kobo device is from the Chapters.Indigo website. They are based in Canada but ship to the US, and their shipping is very fast.

They’ll try to scare you off with an estimated delivery date a couple weeks away but it really only takes 2-5 days. The package will arrive through the USPS and you will have to sign for the package, so if no one is home to sign you’ll have to pick it up from the post office.

Chapters will send a shipping notice when the device ships, but they don’t send a tracking number. You have to contact them to get one.

Chapters charges in Canadian dollars, so with the US dollar as strong as it is right now, the price comes out less, even with international shipping to the US. For instance, the Kobo Glo HD costs $129. But after adding shipping and converting the price to USD, the total is around $120 USD, give or take a few bucks depending on the current exchange rate. That’s without the 20% Visa Checkout discount mentioned above.

Most credit cards charge a foreign transaction fee, so be aware of that. It’s usually only a few bucks. You can avoid it by using PayPal.

If you use PayPal, make sure to enter your address on the Indigo website before choosing to checkout using PayPal. Speaking from experience, for some reason it will give an address error and won’t let you finish the order if you just go straight to PayPal.

Kobo.com

Aside from Chapters, which isn’t even an official US supplier, Kobo.com is pretty much the only other place to order Kobo ereaders in the US.

I’ve ordered from them in the past and wasn’t impressed. They don’t tell you what carrier ships it, you don’t get notified when it ships, you don’t get a tracking number or an estimated delivery date. You’d think that a company owned by a major online retailer would have basic things like shipping info worked out.

Kobo just started using a new ereader store powered by Shopify, so things may have changed.

Kobo used to charge in US dollars, but now I’m not sure anymore, as some have reported being charged in Canadian dollars when ordering the Glo HD. Shipping is free to the US. Past orders were delivered by the post office, and no signature was required (not sure how things currently operate).

3rd Party Online Retailers

You can also find Kobo devices on third party stores like Amazon and eBay. They are often more expensive than buying from Chapters or Kobo directly, however. For instance, the Kobo Glo HD is already available on eBay, but it’s $10 over retail and you also have to pay almost $10 more for shipping.

Indie Bookstores

Kobo sells their devices from a couple independent bookstores in the US, so if you happen to have one nearby, you can call and see if they have any in stock, but don’t get your hopes up because very, very few places carry them anymore. Here’s the link to the Indie Store Locator at Kobo.

20 Responses to “Tips for Buying Kobo eReaders in the United States”

  1. Re Indie bookstores: I e-mailed one in my city, which replied that they did have some Kobos in stock. But I haven’t yet gone to the bookstore to check them out.

  2. If ordering from Kobo’s website, you can use promo code PERKOPOLIS for a 10% discount on the Glo HD as well as the Aura and H2O.

  3. We just ordered an Aura from Kobo’s site and they gave us a tracking number. Used USPS. It’s almost to California.

  4. Also, I’m pretty sure Kobo charges in US dollars now. The Aura we ordered came out to $106, with the $6 being the shipping and the $100 being the discounted price they have going right now.

    Double checked our statement and it’s $106.
    I want to buy a Glo HD soon so it looks like even with the really high shipping prices of Chapter.Indigo, if they really do charge in Canadian dollars, it’ll be cheaper to get it there than from Kobo directly.

    • Interesting… Kobo didn’t used to charge shipping when buying ereaders, but they just changed everything with the release of the Glo HD, which is good because they’ve really needed to improve in that area for a long time. Maybe I’ll give ordering from them a try again when they release the Kobo Touch 2.

  5. Taking advantage of this Visa Checkout promotion at Indigo and current exchange rate Kobo Aura H2O can be bought for only about $131 shipped. This is very good for that type of reader. Nathan, thanks for “heads up” on this promotion, I ordered one.

    • Your welcome! That is a good deal for the H2O. I’m kind of surprised that Kobo’s devices weren’t excluded in the 20% off deal.

  6. Sybil McCuistion Reply May 13, 2015 at 4:16 am

    Hello everyone…I contacted Indigo by phone and by email, to ask if the Kobo Aura H20 was included in the 20% off promotion. I was told NO both times!

    Lev, may I ask how you placed your order? On the website…or over the phone? I was told that no electronics were included in this promotion. They were very firm about it.

    I plan on ordering the H20 in the next couple of days, and had decided to order directly from Kobo. (And try to use the 10% discount that Fbone mentioned). However, I would love to be able to get it for $131.00 from Indigo! Did you encounter any resistance at all, during the ordering process? Thank you for your help…

    • I just placed the order online. It applied 20% discount with no problem. And later I went on to my credit card account website to confirm a pending transaction from Indigo for about $131.

      Double checked again today and all is the same. I advise just to go ahead with placing an order online.

  7. Sybil McCuistion Reply May 13, 2015 at 11:15 am

    Thank you Lev for your fast reply…I think that I will place the H20 order with them today. That is a great price for it. This will be my first order with Indigo (I live in the USA), and I am a little nervous about doing it…

    Obviously, the people who told me the Kobo Aura H20 didn’t qualify were just misinformed. Thank you again for the information, and your help!

  8. Too bad. I ordered last night and I have just seen the promo mentioned here. Anyway, hope that my h20 be delivered soon. I am living in the Philippines and have asked kobo to ship to Johnny Air’s office in New York. Hope there won’t be any problems.

  9. I’m planning on ordering mind this week but I keep on putting it off cause I’m scared I might get a unit that’s not functioning. Have you had any trouble with the unit that it needs to be sent back to chapters?

    • There are some risks. Most people, including myself, don’t have any problems. But like any product there can be defects, like sometimes bright light spots can shine through with the frontlight. In which case you’d have to deal with Kobo’s customer service, which is notoriously not very good or helpful—they’ll run you in a bunch of circles, post copy and paste responses, and forward your email to a bunch of different departments. Eventually if you’re really persistent you might finally get an RMA but you’ll probably have to pay return shipping back to Canada and then maybe a couple weeks later if you’re lucky you’ll get a replacement that has no issues.

  10. What is the duty rate of ordering Aura from Chapters Indigo and ship to US? I mean the import tax.

      • Hi, I wanted to get your suggestions before ordering from chapters to US.

        With the display and battery issues with the Kobo aura one is having now, I thought it would be better to deal with chapters than Kobo’s unreliable US site and the CS. So, have you ever had to return anything to chapters from US? How much did that cost? Have you ever had to claim warranty for any of the Kobo devices bought from Canada? I checked with Kobo and they said that they’ll only honor the warranty in Canada. Not in US. Any experiences on that?

        Lastly, I wanted to get your opinion on how useful this device could be as a manga/ e reader. I’m mostly interested in this because of the size and the adjustable light color. I’m sick and tired of the QC issues with Kindle lighting these days. I had to buy/return a bunch of devices before I got a white display of my current PW. The color adjustable light appeals to me very much because of this. But having said that, I look at the CS of Kobo and I’m horrified. Maybe I’ve been pampered by Amazon’s CS too much but even without taking them into account, Kobo has one of the worst cs I’ve seen. And thinking about dealing with them if I get a faulty device (which is more than likely to happen) does not appeal to me at all. So, any advise on that front? Thanks in advance.

        • Luckily I haven’t had to return a Kobo ereader before but I’ve heard that you still have to go through Kobo if you get it from Chapters because they only accept returns in person in stores. There are a number of reports of uneven lighting issues with the Aura One as well, so it’s unlikely going to be better than the Kindle in that regard. I agree, dealing with Kobo’s CS is a nightmare and it’s best to be avoided at all costs. I don’t even bother trying to ask them basic questions anymore because I know they have no clue what they are doing.

          • Thank you for the reply. I checked with Chapters about the return and they said that if it was bought online and sent to US, we can mail it in to them at our expense. So, a viable option is to order two from them and then return one. Or better yet, wait for Kobo to resolve all the issues and then buy.

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