Random Musings on the Kobo Reader App

Lately I’ve been using the Kobo app on the iPad to read, and I found myself turning to the iPad in the evening more often than the Kindle. I’ve been on a reading tear, not only because of the RITA Reader Reviews, which have damaged the schedule of my TBR list like whoa and moly, but because I’m super busy during the day and in the evening am ready to read and disappear into someone else’s story for awhile.

The Kobo app is interesting to me because of the way it tracks what I do, and shares stats with me about what and how I read. Even though I find the awarding of badges somewhat goofy in any app or community to which I belong, I found that I was curious what my stats looked like. Plus, with the Kobo Read On trillion minute challenge to read more and encourage donations to charities specified by readers, I wanted to see what my reading might contribute to their efforts.

Here’s a screen shot of the “Stats” page of my “Reading Life” section from earlier today:

image

It tells me how long I’ve read, how fast I turn pages, what my average is, and what time of day I tend to read. I know Kobo collects this information and then shares it with the publishing community at conferences, but seeing my own reading statistics is kind of fun. I didn’t expect to enjoy it, really.

There’s also the Activity section, wherein I get awards, badges, and notifications about when I’m reading, or what I’m doing (i.e. finishing a book, or re-reading a book). I could honestly take or leave this section. I don’t read for the badges (I don’t need no stinkin’ badges!) or the recognition of what I’m doing when I read.

Also, because I tend to close and reopen book to get quotes, notes, and highlights out for review purposes, this skews the activity metrics a bit. For example, the app thought I was re-reading a book when really I was going back to a book to find my own notes and highlights, and then closing the book again. It was a book I didn’t enjoy very much – I can promise you, Kobo app, I wasn’t re-reading it. I was fishing for the crazysauce I’d highlighted.

I would like to be able to rate and rank books in my library – and if that feature is there, I haven’t found it. It might be and I’m just missing it every time. But I’d like to be able to give a rating and a brief summary of a book, or at least make a note on the book in general, particularly because I’m reading a lot of older Harlequin titles at the moment, and the titles blend in my brain to the point where I can only remember the cover, or the plot. (Ask me about this one Maya Banks I read, where the heroine was awesome and there were painted toenails involved in one memorable scene. Do I remember the title? NOT EVER.)

What I really like is that I can create shelves of my content very easily. For example, a few nights ago I treated myself to Sarah Morgan’s backlist so I can read while I travel next week. I put all the books in my Dropbox file, then opened them in Dropbox – which of course told me, “WTF, Sarah. I can’t read ePubs.” Dropbox then gives me a choice of which reader to use for the ePub, and each time I selected the Kobo app. Granted this is a cumbersome way to load up a library, but it worked very quickly for me and I didn’t cuss too much because the books weren’t going where I wanted.

Then, within the Kobo library, I created a “Sarah Morgan” shelf, selected all the titles I wanted to include, and, presto, I was done. I can purchase books in the Kobo store through Safari, which I’ve only done once, and it was relatively painless. Once they’re in the library, I can move them to whatever shelf I want.

I have to say, I love the shelves options far more than the clunky and cumbersome ‘collections’ method on the Kindle, and I’m very much looking forward to trying out the Kobo Touch reader when I get a chance.

I don’t really have much of a use for the “Book Cover” that’s built as a sort of collage of my badges, awards, and books read or started, and I have had to turn off some of the activity notifications as they were intruding on my reading, but I have to say, I really enjoy seeing the stats, and seeing when and how fast I read (faster than I thought). The “Reading Life” section is kinda fun in an unexpected, goofy way, and coupled with the brightness, text size, font, and black/white background for reading, I’m surprised to find that I’m reaching for the iPad to use the Kobo reader more than I am the Kindle.

Next, I plan to get my hands on a Kobo Touch and try that experience as well.

Categorized:

General Bitching...

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  1. 1
    Bonnie says:

    I am surprised that I don’t always reach for the Kindle now, either.  A friend gave me her old iPad when she upgraded, and while it is definitely heavier than the Kindle and you can only use one hand to turn the pages, there are times when I prefer the display.  It’s nice to have book covers to look at, too, though I suppose that’s a trivial concern.  Of course, the other nice thing about the iPad is that it has both Nook and Kobo on it so you can access books the Kindle won’t read.
    My single biggest gripe about Kindle books (and apparently it’s mostly the publishers who are to blame, though Amazon could get tougher with them, as Apple has done), apart from poor quality control (texts OCRed with no human copyediting) is the lack of metadata that would permit you to sort your books in a reasonable manner.  I’m more a mystery than romance reader, and there are series (e.g. In Death, Nero Wolfe) containing more than 30 books, and I want to read them in order.  Why should I have to go look it up on stopyourekillingme.com rather than be able to sort them by date on my Kindle?

    I can only hope the publishers are listening, and also to the repeated statement that (except for the latest J.D. Robb, maybe), most of us just aren’t going to pay hardcover prices for ebooks.  That is a lost sale, because I’m going to read the new Daniel Silva or even Julia Spencer-Fleming as a library book and wait for the price to drop before adding it to the Kindle collection.

    As for the tracking and such, I wish I could be the kind of person who took at least brief notes of every book read, but I guess my character is bad.  I’m just to eager to get to the next one.  I’m not as paranoid about privacy as some people, but I’d just as soon my reading device didn’t “phone home.”

  2. 2
    Hannah says:

    The Kindle doesn’t have the best organizational features, I agree. I also wish that samples sent to the Kindle would just expire after a week or two, also—my Kindle is way too cluttered with them!

    I think the stats feature on Kobo is way cool! Although I only have e-ink readers and an Ipod touch now, I plan on buying an iPad soon for general reading and Netflix, among other things. It will be interesting to see if I still reach for the e-ink readers with the iPad as an option.

  3. 3
    Becca says:

    will the stats and all that fun stuff work with side-loaded books, epubs purchased from sites other than Kobo? or will it only work with kobo books?  (can you highllight and make notes on non-Kobo books?)

    nothing92 – there’s nothing that 92 new ebooks won’t cure…

  4. 4
    SB Sarah says:

    @Becca: Yup, I’ve been able to highlight the side loaded books I’m reading, and leave notes, no problem.

    @Bonnie: SING IT SISTER. *holds lighter*

  5. 5
    peggy h says:

    I have the Kobo app in my iPhone but I only use it occasionally and (confession!) I haven’t really explored it.  However, it sounds like the Kobo app, at least the one for iPad, is way more versatile than the Kobo Reader itself.  I have a Kobo Reader but I hardly ever use it, partly because I can’t create collections.  It just puts all my books in one humongous list.

  6. 6
    Julie says:

    I always reach for my iPad before my Kindle – the funny thing is that I use the Kindle app on the iThing.  I like the bright display better, especially when I’m reading at night.  I am going to download the Kobo app now and play with that.  Thanks for reminding me of its existence!

  7. 7
    Alina says:

    I read on my iPhone and use Kindle, Kobo, and Stanza (I’ve pretty much abandoned iBooks as inferior). I like the badges and all the other fun stuff in Reading Life, but I find Kobo very laggy as a program. I wonder if it’s really made for newer iPads and iPhones (I have a 3GS, maybe it runs better on a 4).

    The one thing I really like in the Kindle app is that its screen-rotation-lock is very handy. I’m guessing there are probably two groups of readers: ones who pretty much never change the reader’s screen orientation, and ones who do so often. I’m the latter.

    Due to the strong Canadian dollar and the fact that I have to pay taxes when buying books from the Canadian Kobo store, American-dollar-priced Kindle books actually end up costing me less.

    If I could, I would smush Kindle, Kobo, and Stanza into one app. My perfect little Frankenmonster e-reader.

  8. 8
    Linda B. says:

    I don’t know about the app, but Kobo has a daily email that lists all of the free ebooks out there, from Kobo, Amazon/Kindle, Barnes & Noble, and other publishers. It’s fabulous!

  9. 9
    LisaCharlotte says:

    I just got a kindle this year for birthday/mothers day. Ive been reading on my iphone(before that ipod touch) and ipad. I caved for the kindle due to splitting headaches from reading on the backlit lcd. I read the entire fever series on my iphone after Shadowfever was released and had a three day headache. Ever since i cant read an entire book on an ithing without pain. I have flirted with other book apps as they were released, but Kindle for ithings is just so convenient. Plus i share my amazon acct with my mother after i purchased her a kindle at xmas. I dont have problems web surfing or movie watching on my ithings, just reading.

  10. 10
    Jocelyn Modo says:

    I guess it’s the nerd in me, but I love apps like Kobo that track my progress and give me colorful graphs! My favorite “To Do List” app is Epic Win, which turns all my boring tasks into a game. Sure, I’m playing against myself, but I still receive more satisfaction kicking my task’s butt than simply crossing it off a list.

  11. 11
    Yes, No, Maybw says:

    Thanks to Sarah and her earlier post on the Dropbox App, I’ve been using it almost exclusively to sideload my iPad.
    I can’t say I’m thrilled about the Kobo App. I was taken aback when I started using Kobo. Yikes, it knew everything about my reading habits. What I do at 3 am – zeven if its only reading. Plus those ‘Stepford’ badges…Seriously?
    Now I tend to choose the iBook option to open any epubs. Big brother may be watching me over at Apple but he doesn’t send me Kobo-like ‘I miss you’ and ‘please come back’ emails!
    Creepy

  12. 12
    Ros says:

    The Tycoon’s Rebel Bride, maybe?  Awesome heroine and toenail painting.  Also a tattoo.

  13. 13
    Suzannah says:

    There’s an app that gives out *badges*?  I’ve got to try it!  I see it’s also available for PCs so I’m going to download it tonight. I liked the screenshot that gave the stats, too.  It’s so easy just to keep adding stuff and overlooking the fact that at some point I’m supposed to read it all.  Seeing that I’d only read a tiny percentage of what I have might make me think before buying more.  I created a TBR shelf in Adobe Digital Editions, but so far it hasn’t really worked…

  14. 14
    JoyK says:

    I sill love the Kindle though I’ve EXTREMELY frustrated with its poor organizational possibilities.  I have over 300 books and echo Bonnie’s comments about wanting to add series in order and wanting to automatically use Metadata rather than try to re-create those on the Kindle.  Also, some publishers don’t seem to understand the alphabet so I get books by the same author separated cause one is using first name and one the last.  What the fuck!  And why can’t I easily change that.

    Prices are the fault of greedy publishers.  No way/no how am I going to pay hardcover prices of ebooks and I want a few bucks off of paperback prices.  After all I can’t re-sell or get credit at the used paperback store so they are worth less to me.  Library here I come.  I get on the holds list as soon as they show up pre-pub.  Sorry, Nora, you’ll have to wait to get my money or maybe I’ll skip buying your latest if the price doesn’t drop enough.  Used book stores RULE.

  15. 15
    Ann G says:

    JoyK—I have a Kindle, and I love it.  I agree with you on the e-book prices for the new books.  Besides the fact that some stores sell books at a discounted rate (Target, Costco, etc), it’s true that you can’t sell or trade in e-books.  So logically, e-books should be sold at least a few dollars lower than the print books.
    I am a definite library uses, and I put my name on the reserve list at the library as soon as I know the books will be ordered.
    While I’ve seen that HBs at say $28 – 30.00 are $13- 16.00 in e-book, I think that’s too high.  I’m also wondering when the HB comes out in paper.  Will the e-book price come down when the pb is available?

  16. 16
    Cialina says:

    That looks so cool!!! I wish my nook could do that.

  17. 17
    Julie Doe says:

    /delurking/

    I just recently got one of the new Kobo Touch ereaders, and I’m not impressed. I like the clean look of it, the fact that the “sleep screen” is the cover of the book I’m reading, and some other things, but…

    …big “but”…

    Ye Gods, the touch screen. From Hell. It will work fine for about 10-12 page turns, then I have to touch it three to six times to get the page to turn. Then it’s wonky a few more page turns, then fine for 10-12 page turns, then…huh, what, you’re touching me? I didn’t feel that…

    I even tried different ways of touching it – hard, soft, quickly, swiping, etc. Didn’t solve the problem.

    And if you want to read holding it just your left hand (like I’m used to doing with my old Sony reader), forget it. The left side of the screen only takes you backwards in the book. And sometimes other sections of the screen take you backwards instead of forwards as well, even though they’re not supposed to.

    Finally, the screen almost always has a faint ghost of the previous page, more so than my Kindle or Sony.

    *sigh*

    It’s going back to Borders if they’ll take it. As cute, compact,  lightweight, and lilac (!) as it is, the screen just about drove me crazy.

    /back to lurking/

  18. 18
    Hannah says:

    While I’ve seen that HBs at say $28 – 30.00 are $13- 16.00 in e-book, I think that’s too high.  I’m also wondering when the HB comes out in paper.  Will the e-book price come down when the pb is available?

    Yes, I’ve seen the ebook price come down after the pb release. Usually it’s not a huge drop in price—like from 12.99 to 9.99, possibly even lower if the book is released in mass-market paperback.

  19. 19
    beletseri says:

    @julie doe

    Oh! That’s annoying! I was so excited about the Kobo Touch, I was actually thinking about getting one. The only caveat is that I work at borders and know that we have the worst track record with ereaders, sometimes they are ok, but often they are woefully inferior. I’m waiting till my store gets the touch in stock and I’m going to play around with it. If I like it I might get one, but hearing about the screen is worrysome. The kobo devices have a history of doing stuff like this, the page turns on the first one were slow. Once they added the wifi that was slow. And then there was the uploading, I would get customer complaints about the device not loading books, and that is just something I can’t fix in the store. These were hardware problems, I just can’t understand why Kobo can’t beta test their devices better.
    Borders will for sure take it back (heck let me know if you have any problems and I’ll try to get it taken care of for you)

  20. 20
    Julie Doe says:

    @beletseri

    Thanks. The page turns are not very fast on the Kobo Touch either – slower than the Kindle, but about equivalent to my old and Sony PRS-505, so I can live with that.

    I also had to go through some shenanigans to get Calibre to see the Kobo. It found the Kindle first time, no problem.

    I may play around a bit with the Wifi and loading books *not* via Calibre just to see how it goes.

  21. 21
    bug_girl says:

    All the features you describe are why I eventually ditched this app. I didn’t like that it was tracking me. It creeped me out, and it seemed like the app was dialing home to the Kobo mothership fairly often too.
    What info was it sharing? Who knows.

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