It’s time for another ill-advised internet rant. I like Kobo’s ereaders and their ebook store is a good alternative to Amazon, but as a blogger, Kobo gives me practically nothing to work with.
They do like two things a year that are worth talking about.
Last year all they did was release the Kobo Clara 2E, which is almost exactly the same as the Kobo Clara HD that came before it, and it was on the market for over 4 years before it was replaced by the nearly-identical Clara 2E.
It’s been over 3 months since Kobo last released a firmware update, and the last update was pretty minor, like usual.
I can’t even remember the last time Kobo did something that was worth talking about. They released the Kobo Elipsa in 2021, and that was pretty interesting, but they’ve barely made any improvements to the notetaking experience at all since then, and now Amazon sells the Kindle Scribe that’s superior to it in many ways, especially from a hardware standpoint.
What does Kobo do? Nothing. They haven’t even put the Kobo Elipsa on sale once since the Kindle Scribe was released. Have they added any new features to it? Nope. Most of the time it seems like they don’t have any interest in competing with Kindles at all. It’s been well over a decade since Kobo started selling their ereaders in the Unites States, and they still aren’t even available in stores from a single retailer—you can only order them online.
Nothing ever changes at Kobo. There’s nothing new to talk about. There’s no list of rotating controversies like with Amazon and Kindles, which is probably a good thing, but it’s also boring. And most people have never heard of Kobo. They have no idea what Kobo does or that they sell ereaders similar to Kindles.
Why doesn’t Kobo ever do any reading challenges? Why don’t they ever do any unique sales or promotions? All they ever do is take like $20 off the price of their ereaders once every couple of months. Ooh, $20 off again. It’s barely worth mentioning.
Come on Kobo. Do something interesting for a change. Make an effort to take Kindles down a peg or two. Give me something to work with here!
I have two Kobo e-readers — a Glo HD that is still going strong after 5+ years and a Forma that also is in perfect working order and is used daily. They have all the features I need, and since I’m not in the market for a new one I don’t care about sales. Sorry if that’s too boring for you. 🙂
Kobo could do something exciting that no other company is doing: release a new 5 inch ereader, the Kobo Mini 2.0, with a light, more storage, and waterproof. Give us something to drop into a shirt pocket comfortably.
More storage, audiobook capabilities . I miss the mini.
I would love a new Mini! I still use my original Mini after I increased the storage to 32GB and updated the firmware. The only thing I’m missing is a built-in light.
Were you able to replace the battery? I have three original Minis, but the batteries are shot after 10 years. Please, Kobo, give us another Mini.
Your point on Kobo’s almost diffident venture into the US market can’t be overstated. It’s never made any sense. As a subsidiary of the same parent Co. as OverDrive (Rakuten) I thought that would have provided some leverage in the market. But to your point, it’s hard to get excited about what Kobo is doing.
I don’t have either the scribe nor elipsa, but from all I can gather is that they are not exactly comparable. They each have their differences and strengths. It seems that the Elipsa offers a bit more in function for notetaking, especially with the ability to edit text. Although without formatting, but something the Scribe is not able to do, at least not yet. So I guess they don’t feel the competition there? I would also guess they don’t have the deep pockets that Amazon has, so development is probably slower with them. I don’t know what is worse: slow moving or fast moving like Boox where they release so many products in a short time I wonder how long their support will last for all their products? It seems Amazon is in the middle.
I like my Kobo readers, the way they integrate with Calibre, the thousand ways you can customize them, and I’m content with Kobo being boring. 🙂 Amazon, now, has made many changes in recent years that alienated me thoroughly (I was a hardcore Kindle fangirl a few years ago). They changed the Kindle UI for the worse (and you can’t downgrade a Kindle unless jailbroken), they made it harder to remove the DRM from their ebooks and so on. The last thing I want is Kobo doing something equally exciting.
I agree with the others who say, in this case, boring is a good thing.. I like the fact that I can just read books and don’t have to learn a bunch of new stuff every time I turn around. I find the kobo website annoying as heck but am really happy with my ereaders.
Boring is fine for you readers, but as a blogger who’s trying to find something to write about everyday in this small niche Kobo gives me practically no content. Kindle articles outnumber Kobo articles by at least 5 to 1 on this website. Years ago Kobo was more active and they were always expanding and doing new things, but nowadays it just seems like they’re running on autopilot. There are so many more things they could be doing to compete with Amazon, but it’s like they aren’t even trying anymore.
Yes, definitely noticed the Kindle to Kobo article ratio. And I understand it and have no problem.
However, I wouldn’t say Kobo is boring. Which company had a large note-taking reader out first, between Amazon and Kobo, hmmm? Which has an 8″ reader in the line up, complete with note-taking ability and Dropbox support? Which had an 8″ reader with the Mobius flexible substrate …
Which hasn’t updated their one premium model with physical buttons. Yep, Amazon!
And what, really, has Kindle done on a regular basis that is truly all that newsworthy? They have free books every month. (Only a few of which seem interesting, generally, but I do appreciate you listing them, and sometimes snag a good one! )
Amazon puts their devices on sale regularly. Nice if you don’t already HAVE an e-reader, but if you do have one, you generally don’t have a need to upgrade every other week … and when it’s so often, it’s not all that newsy if you know what I mean.
At least some of the time, the Kindle news running around the web is that people HATE some new firmware upgrade Amazon has pushed out to their Kindles! Or, somewhat recently, that there were a lot of Kindles freezing up on a screen. Didn’t happen to mine, fortunately, I kept it offline.
Those kinds of excitement, while definitely news, I personally can live without, LOL! Boring isn’t always bad! Change isn’t always good!
However, I do understand that it’s got to be frustrating as a blogger! Feel free to rant away, I don’t mind. As a reader who loves her Kobo, I’d certainly like to see more interesting news about Kobo, but it is what it is.
Where I absolutely agree with you is that Kobo seems to have given up on any kind of marketing of their products within the USA. Yeah, Walmart carries them, online, but with no fanfare, that’s for sure. And it’s absolutely true that the vast majority of people in the states have never seen, or heard of, or tried a Kobo device.
On the other hand, it wouldn’t be easy to buck against the Amazon near-stranglehold and Kobo may well feel that it isn’t worth the effort. I just hope they are content with making great devices, and what progress they may be making (hopefully) in other markets.
And they dont sell in all countries
I am struggling to find a place to buy a Kobo in India and had to settle again for a Kindle
I’ve bought all my ereaders from other countries, Yes, it’s more expensive with shipping, customs and whatnot, but you can still do it. It’s not like in the pre-internet days, where buying from abroad was almost impossible.
I too am OK with boring! I bought a Kobo Libre H2O back in 2019 and it has been an excellent ereader! Unlike the Kindles I have owned in the past, it is extremely easy to load ebooks on, both using Calibre or just copying them over by hand. It is also much easier to update than a Kindle. Best of all though, I do not have to go to Amazon for anything!
It certainly is not perfect, but most of the issues I have are firmware related. I have noticed since the last update occasionally the page turn button functionality gets reversed. It also doesn’t like large PDF’s, or the end of Project Gutenberg books and locks up. Those last two appear to be memory related issues to me, but all those are easily fixed with a hard reset. I do wish it had a card slot, longer battery life and a faster processor though! I would love to see a hardware refresh of this fantastic little ereader!
From what I can tell, updates on the kindle is pretty much the same process as the kobo. 1. wait for it to happen on its own. 2. download and save the file in the root directory of the kindle and restart. I believe is is the same with the kobo.
Steve H. says
Yes Kobo is boring. I get the feeling that Amazon’s Scribe has boxed them in a corner on price on large(8″ and above) readers. They will put out a large 300 dpi reader after the screen embargo expires this fall, IMO. They won’t promote it well…but it will be there. I like the Scribe but I await Kobo’s highly customizable alternative.
100%!!!! I love my Kobo, just wish whoever is leading the product development would put more heart into it!
I love my Kobo’s also – they are so much better than Amazon’s Kindles. Amazon has added things way behind Kobo like warm lighting on most of their devices and the higher dpi on the lower end readers. Kobo listens to their readers more than Amazon does and they have a great Facebook page that engages their readers. Kobo had the points system way before Amazon did. And Kobo has had various sized devices where Amazon had the same 6 inch until recently. Kobo has the swipe the screen to adjust the light brightness and Amazon still makes you go thru steps to adjust things. Kobo’s on device shopping is way easier than Amazon’s. I don’t know – listing all of this to me makes me think Amazon is boring and Kobo is very innovative.
Pretty much everything you mentioned happened 5+ years ago, and that’s kind of my point. Since then they’ve released a Kobo Clara 2E that’s almost exactly the same as the Clara HD, and the Libra 2 is practically a carbon copy of the 1st gen Libra. The Sage is a basically a downgrade of the Forma but with stylus support. Not much innovation lately. Amazon has added more new features to the Kindle Scribe in 3 months than Kobo has added to the Elipsa in 21 months.
Comments accepted and understood but I still love my Kobo’s over Kindles and Kobo over Amazon.
Oh, Sage is not a downgrade to me! I have a beautiful Forma (no screen edge stripe) and a Sage, and even though I prefer the weight and ergonomics of the Forma, my old eyes FAR prefer the screen of the Sage!
Sage is the one I pick up, unless it is in need of charging, and even then, it charges so quickly that I rarely have to switch to the Forma.
The note-taking has been a plus. When I’m at my computer, Sage on the desk, I grab it instead of some scrap of paper and make notes on projects. The scraps of paper inevitably got lost, the Sage doesn’t. And export to Dropbox is very handy! The handwriting recognition is GREAT!
Plus, when I’m reading in bed, and don’t want the weight, I just easily pop the Sage out of its magnetic cover. And it never just falls out of the cover, like, if you recall, Amazon’s magnetic cover for Oasis 2.
Sage is TOTALLY an upgrade to the Forma for me.
Could Sage have better battery life? Yeah, that would be a boon. A Mobius screen MIGHT be a boon, but I’m not sure you can have that without sacrificing screen quality. My Aura One is noticeably sharper than the Forma, as is also the Sage. I keep thinking that might be the Mobius screen.
Also, if Amazon has added more new features to the Kindle Scribe in 3 months, isn’t that at least partly because the software was half-baked at release date and they are adding promised features in?
Oasis 3 was just a carbon copy of Oasis 2 with added front light. So Kobo isn’t the only one doing that sort of thing! Most of Amazon’s news is them adding features or devices to play catch up to Kobo!
The real question is whether Kobo can stay ahead of the game over the long haul. And you are right to worry over that! But so far, so good, knock on wood! Sage is the best reader I’ve owned yet, and I”ve owned a few, most of which have been the top of the line premium models of their respective companies!
Totally agree about Amazon playing catch up to Kobo. Kobo was the first to bring out the larger screen – they have brought out every size where Amazon has kept the 6 inch screen and has slapped color backings on them to advertise as new. A year or more later in the game finally coming out with the Scribe to match the size of the Elipsa. I look forward to see what Kobo is going to come out with next. Amazon doesn’t generate that type of excitement. I have the Sage also and it has quickly taken the spot as my favorite reader – bumping out the Libra 2. Everyone has their own opinion and mine is that Amazon is boring. The only time you can say it is not boring is to compare it to the BN Nook.
Steve H. says
TOTALLY AGREE ON SAGE vs FORMA
Sage has an excellent screen and great dark mode.
A workable PDF reader would be a boon .Kobo has had the same poky, unweildly PDF reader fo 20 years.Time for a change!
I hate Kobo. They never release updates and their battery life’s are awful. Kindle Forever!
The battery life of my Kobos is no worse than that of the Oasis. Perhaps the Paperwhites have better battery life, no idea, as I’ve never owned one. And as to updates… the fewer the better. I kept my Oasis in the airplane mode for years, to not get that new horrible UI. At least you can downgrade a Kobo if you don’t like the update. With a Kindle you’re screwed.
The eReader and smartphone sector increasingly resemble each other in that each year brings refinements rather than revolutions. It’s a sign the devices are mature: they work well in most respects for most people.
Sure we could use a better display, or battery life, or speed bump but the measures that those improvements arrive in are typically boring too. Small and incremental.
Chris Ridd says
Contrast Kobo phoning in their e-readers with companies like Onyx which manufactures and releases more e-ink devices each year than I’ve had hot dinners.
Maybe Kobo is hampered by having to rely on an OEM for their hardware?