07 November, 2012

Kobo, shame about the web site

The early Kobo reader was a heap of junk. I picked one up during a trip to the UK and came across a branch of WH Smiths selling them off cheap. I didn't get round to writing a review of it at the time, but briefly my gripes are that it takes for ever to turn a page and the procedure to carry out a purchase is rather cumbersome. Added to that, it discharges in a couple of weeks, even if it's not used. Oh, and the fonts do not make for easy reading.

The new Kobo readers are much better from a hardware point of view, with a touch screen and pages that turn instantly. But my gripe is the system for buying ebooks. You can't buy a book directly on the reader, you must first install software on your computer (PC or Mac, no Linux version although you can copy files manually in Linux), create an account, shop on your computer and then transfer your purchase to the reader. A far cry from the Amazon Kindle method.

There's more. The localisation is badly done. Or rather, it's done in a way that leaves you no choice. I set up my purchase in London, created an account and downloaded a couple of books. Then when I got home to Paris and installed the client software on a PC there, I couldn't log onto my account. It turns out the software was trying to log onto the FNAC website, which is Kobo's French agent. I had to route via a UK VPN just so that I could log into my account and retrieve my books.

The poorly done localisation approach also shows if you just type kobo.com or kobobooks.com while in France. Although you can switch the site into English, it keeps reverting to French. More to the point - it tries to sell you books in French! Again, a far cry from other sites which let you browse between different language books. Or event that of its how power rival which has separate .uk, .fr, .de and .com sites. Better separate sites than one which is badly integrated.