Wish list from a Kobo bookworm

Kobo, you need to fix this to stay relevant.

I love my Kobo Aura. It’s distraction free reading karma in the light of a candle. It’s the best (anti-) gizmo I bought for year.

Unfortunately there are a few rough edges, which occasionally makes my eyes wander from that great novel to a review of the latest Kindle. Small annoyances which makes it less easy to make a clear recommendation to friend and colleagues seeking e-reader zen.

Here’s what I think Kobo should fix. It’s not rocket science. It’s simply something Kobo need to deal with to stay relevant

1. Painless side loading

I don’t want that ancient cable procedure.
Kobo is an isolated island.

I get most book from the Kobo store. It’s click n’ pay and start reading in second. Automagic, wireless. Great. That’s reading in 2014.

But sometimes I am forced back to 2001 with iPod-like syncing procedures involving an USB-cable, a computer and special client software.  This happens every time I want to read literature in Danish, or get a book from a friend or as part of my news paper subscription.

Kobo already chose the open approach using the “EPUB format”, which is a kind of universal languages for ebooks. But in terms of getting the books in there Kobo is very much an isolated island, and then language doesn’t really matter.

Come on Kobo, you can do much better. I want to transfer books directly from all sorts of book stores to my Kobo using Wifi. Kindle has a “Send to Kindle” feature – already integrated in Danish bookstores. Maybe a path to follow?

I’ also like to have a seamless way of importing my precious back catalog of books I already paid for. I’d love to be able to upload my 3. party e-books to a “My Kobo” website of some kind, making them available in the same ways as my Kobo purchases. An upgrade of Kobo.com is very welcome. It could eliminate the present, less elegant, mix of the Kobo website, the Kobo Desktop app, and Adobe Digital Edition.

Kobo - DK lit
I need to carry my precious back catalog with me.

2. Promo code which makes sense

Promo codes are so disappointing. 

I might be dumber than average, but in general I find promo codes frustrating and disappointing . Like the latest December offer a few days ago: Subject line of the mail said “Have you read these recommended reads? Plus, your UNLIMITED promo code is inside!“.

Here’s the content of the mail:


“35%” and “unlimited” sounds great.
“Browse now” – sure. Click away.  It’s almost to good to be true,
… and it was :-/   This is what I got:


Ten seconds ago I was a happy customer; now I just feel stupid.

Definition of unlimited in English: ADJECTIVE 
1. Not limited or restricted in terms of number, quantity, or extent (...).
Source: Oxford Dictionary.

I know… agreements with different publishers in different regions and all that, and I cannot blame Kobo for this.

But Kobo, you know where I live – and you have my ip-number, my credit card info and we have done business so may times. Please use this knowledge and stop sending me offers which are really meant for the US/CA/whatever audiences, but are nothing but disappointments for me. Please start sending me special offers that are actually special and for real. In a globalized, data driven economy that should be possible. That should be the core of your business.

3. Real life availability and prize

So close, but no cigar

It’s late night, “comfort light” reading time at its best. I just finished that Lovecraft story, and don’t feel like sleeping. So I grab a book preview (such a convenient feature), and suddenly find myself completely absorbed in the story (much like your tv commercial). No doubt I press “buy” (gratefully; it’s actually a yes please!) when prompted. Thank you, digital angels – please take my money.

…. but no: This books is not available in my region.

It’s like holding a product in my hands in a retail store after a friendly dialogue with the shop assistant, only to get rejected at checkout.

In the same genre (but maybe less critical from a literature junkie perspective): I cannot understand why the final prize at checkout is always different (higher) than the prize I get from search results in the Kobo store. Why not calculate the right prize from the start? Again: You have all the information needed.

I am well aware that content is not available across the entire universe, and different conditions and VAT rates applies. I cannot blame Kobo for this.

But I expect Kobo to take responsibility for the customer relation, based on what you already know about me, the products and different agreement and regulation. So don’t give me this.

4. Annotation and bookmarks

Highlights and comments are forever?

Occasionally I am a heavy user of the annotation feature (highlight, comments, bookmarks), but I am unsure if I can rely on it: Are my comments and highlight automagically backed up at synchronization? Are they preserved forever, also when I delete the book from the Kobo device? And can I extract them in some smart way? And most important: What happens to annotations in my 3th party books – after a reset wiping memory?

I don’t know if this is a task for the technical developer team or your communication department (but I do know how it works with paper books). Please take care of it.

The future

My wishes are modest; realistic necessities in a globalized, data driven economy, and should be fixed as soon as possible.

Please remember: I’m not here some digital wizard with that magic 3th eyes, casually spoofins ip-number, browsing technical specification of the EPUB3 format and it’s various implementation. Nor am I here with insides in IPR or licensing models from the book industry.

I’m here as the book worm, and I’m only happy to spend money on an ecosystem I can trust. An ecosystem which will remove cognitive load and practicalities, so I can relax and keep on reading. This is your greatest asset.

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