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back to article What ereader decline? Kobo pumps up the volumes despite grim forecasts

A chirpy Kobo has claimed it now has more than 12 million registered users, four million of them creating ebook buyer accounts with the company during 2012. It lauded its device sales too - well, its e-ink kit, not its Android-based tablet offerings - insisting it had captured 20 per cent of the world ereader market in 2012. …

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The kobo-mini is the first ereader in a long time that I just wanted when I saw it. If it had the led lights built into the frame like it's bigger brother I might have traded it my 350. As it is, holding out for epub 3 or colour support.

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Just a consumer.

I'm only a user, not an analyst, but from my point of view I really can't understand why anyone who wants to read books would use a tablet.

Since my first Kobo and now Kindle, I have read a lot of books. Far more than I have in the last ten years with only paper books as an option.

E-Readers do all that I want of them. They hold books and display them for me to read.

E-Readers have a long battery life.

Tablets do a hell of a lot more than an E-Reader, but then again, I have a mobile phone only for phone calls so what would I know.

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Re: Just a consumer.

I am not a big fan of Mills & Boon -style paperback fiction but I'm sure it's a "great reading experience" for you. However try using your Kindle for PDF reference material intended for A4 size, you will soon wish you had a 10 inch tablet instead.

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Re: Just a consumer.

I am not a big fan of Mills & Boon -style paperback fiction but I'm sure it's a "great reading experience" for you. However try using your Kindle for PDF reference material intended for A4 size, you will soon wish you had a 10 inch tablet instead.

I do exactly that on my Sony PRS-T1. Pinch-to-zoom is obviously a bit laggier than a capacitive screen but works perfectly well.

I'm one of those people that believes in having the best gadget for a particular job. I own a smartphone, but keep an iAudio J3 for my music, because it's just far better at it, and has an insane battery life. Same goes for my e-reader, my PSP, etc; I have them alongside my smartphone because they're better at their given tasks.

Sure, I could read my eBooks on a larger, heavier, more cumbersome device with a lower battery life and a screen that can't be read in the sun. Alternatively, I could continue reading them on a device that fits in my jacket pocket, has a battery that lasts a month, and weighs practically nothing.

Seriously, when Sony touted this reader as the "lightest on the market", I honestly didn't give a shit. I've never gone in for "oooh, ours is so thin" with smartphones - hell, I used to own a HTC Athena - but I was surprised at just what a difference it makes with an e-reader. Makes a lot of sense when you think about it. I'm going to be holding the device I read on in any number of positions (such as above my head in bed) for long periods of time. Even the difference between the Sony and a Kindle is noticeable to my keyboard-buggered wrists. I'd hate to try using a large tablet for the same.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Just a consumer.

@Joe Harrison

You good sir are a pompous arse and should think before you speak in the future.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Just a consumer.

Kindle DX fulfilled that job perfectly (for the user).

However, such use case doesn't seem to generate revenue for Amazon to justify the product and ended up being discontinued. I have one with a custom firmware that has improvements to PDF support and still there is no single device to replace it. I don't remember when I charged it last time and with regular usage over the last two months still got enough battery.

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WTF?

Re: Just a consumer.

"However try using your Kindle for PDF reference material intended for A4 size, you will soon wish you had a 10 inch tablet instead."

That is SO true. Also, try using a Kindle for digging foundation for a new building, and you'll soon wish you had a mechanical digger. What point are you making? That you should use an appropriate tool for the job? Brilliant.

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Stop

Re: Just a consumer.

Really got to be worried about the cultural side of The Register when someone can imply that the only alternative to reference material is something in the style of Mills and Boon, and no-one bats an eyelid!

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Paris Hilton

Re: Just a consumer.

> bats an eyelid!

Flutters an eyelash, surely?

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Re: Just a consumer.

"I am not a big fan of Mills & Boon -style paperback fiction"

Don't ya love it when someone just flat-out says "I'm a moron, don't bother reading any further" in the very first line of a post? If only they were all so considerate.

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Re: Just a consumer.

@ Joe

I understand where you're coming from with reference to large PDFs. The Sony's do a damn good job at reflowing PDFs to fit but at the end of the day there are times when you need the format which is why I was prepared to sell a kidney when PlasticLogic announced the Que. Unfortunately, they never delivered but they have demonstrated the potential of this kind of display technology.

Now, back to books. One of the reasons for me to have an e-reader and/or tablet is access to technical documentation when on the road. Fortunately, an increasing number of my stuff exists as Epub as, Sphinx be thanked, pretty usable on whichever device. When it comes to books, I've never read a Mills & Boon but I guess they're no worse that what I do like to read, and having a degree in the subject I like to fancy that I know what I'm talking about.

It doesn't really matter what you read. What does matter is how you read and the Kobo's are remarkably good - I used to have a Sony and I know a few people with Kindles so I can compare. All the new devices are remarkably similar when it comes to the hardware: hi-res, hi-contrast e-ink pearl screens, diffused lighting, size and weight. The new screens are very crisp, not that 800 x 600 was ever bad really but I now get approximately equivalent line lengths as you find in Penguin paperbacks. The lighting makes a huge difference even indoors as just switching it on a bit increases contrast and legibility. Page refreshing is now pleasantly fast. I was used to the hardware buttons for page for and back on the Sony and thought I'd miss them on the Kobo but as you just need to nudge the screen it's not proving to be a problem and means little or now smudging, or as in the case of swiping, scratching.

But the software also matters. Sony is the dogs bollocks when it comes to PDFs, no arguments there. But Kobo lets you adjust line height which is very important when it comes to readability. The built-in shops all feel a bit weird and constraining but the Kobo shop is not geographically restricted - important to me as an ex-pat as I know a few Jormans who've had to register with US addresses just so they could buy books and keep them on their devices. With the Kobo you just change languages and get more books offered in that language. Sync seems to work okay though side-loading books seems to need a one-time authorisation by Adobe. The Glo is pretty light and will fit in a jacket pocket, which is good in summer when I'm feeling a bit Bohemian as Proust and Joyce certainly don't fit!

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Re: Just a consumer.

>I really can't understand why anyone who wants to read books would use a tablet.

If they are already carrying a tablet why would they also carry an ereader?

I swapped reading on the tablet for an ereader but now I just read on my phone - it's always with me, why would I carry another brick onto the train?

Might change my mind again if we ever see the sun - ereaders are great in the summer.

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Great Device

Got one at Christmas, great device , easy on the eye, fantastic battery life. Use Calibre to manage my library and is even compatible with overdrive/Adobe digital edition (local library e access). E ink seems to be much easier on the eye. It also displays the cover of the last book you were reading in sleep mode. Its slim light and fits in my coat pocket. It just works, has wfi for connecting to e book and magazine sites. Colour is not a need for me so Im happy with my kobo. The build quality is pretty solid and the interface is pretty simple too / Also nice to see some diversity in the Market the Kindle is also a good product but prefer not to be tied to Amazon.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Great Device

> the Kindle is also a good product but prefer not to be tied to Amazon.

As has been pointed out many, many, times, the Kindle is NOT tied to Amazon. I have many books on mine that have never been near Amazon. Where does this codswallop come from?

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Im still debating getting a Kindle Paperwhite as my Kindle 4 is still so good (and loss of physical page buttons would be a big annoyance). Reading in the dark and sharper text do sound nice though.

I dont think I could read for long on a tablet but i guess people must do it or there wouldnt be that demand.

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The wife just got a Paperwhite to replace they Kindle keyboard she had. God knows why they moved the physical buttons - she can't hold it just in her left hand anymore. No doubt she'll be getting the Paperwhite 2 next year when they add the buttons back!

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Pirate

I love both!

Some people have a toolbox with a few tools in it and 'make do', personally my toolbox is full of the right tool for the right job, and I personally think E-readers are the right tool for the job of leisure reading.

I read on my iPad sometimes, I read on my Nexus4 (occasionally), but the best experience for me (by far) for ebooks is my Kindle paperwhite.

Why? because it's lightweight, good battery and the ambient light levels are pretty much irrelevant! It's also much cheaper to replace, so travelling with a Kindle is definitely a good option. It's horses for courses, but I'm glad I bought my Kindle, and if it was stolen/destroyed, I'd buy another one tomorrow.

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Re: I love both!

I totally agree with you (probably because I have a similar setup).

There is a market for eReaders but the life of those devices is much longer than a tablet. That explains the sales numbers in my opinion but I've been wrong plenty of times before.

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LDS
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Here in Italy they were sold out for xmas

Here in Italy Kobo sales were very good for xmas, I was looking for a black Glo and it was impossible to find one, all sold. Tablets may be good enough to read a whole book now - maybe - but for example when I'm at seaside I prefer to bring with me a $120 e-reader than a $800 tablet and leave it in the bag while I'm swimming... and e-ink is still better than any LCD screen to read at late evening when my eyes had spent a whole day in front of a monitor.

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Ereaders and tablets do different things. For extended reading [novels], I much prefer an ereader.

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But what are their eBook sales?

While a 20% market share is on the face of it good news it should be remembered that it's in the sale of books rather than readers that Kobo are going to make their money. As it suports Adobe DRM there's nothing to stop buyers shopping around rather than being locked to Amazon a la Kindle. Kobo have conspicuously failed to mention the share of the ebook market that their 20% slice of the reader cake is bringing them.

Don't forget that ereader device price is dictated by the price of the Kindle - you can't be notably more expensive than the market leader and still hope to sell readers. Amazon famously sell Kindles at cost so Kobo, with smaller volumes, are probably losing money with each reader sold. Unless their book sales are going up proportionately reporting a 20% share in ereader sales is just like announcing 'hey look, we're losing even more money than we were last year'.

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Re: But what are their eBook sales?

Any reasonably savvy person with a Kindle im sure has discovered the joys of Calibre and a USB cable. No lock in to Amazon for me but they are generally fairly priced and books I want are available.

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I'm one of that 12mil

Have had a Kobo account for more than a year but every time I try the Kobo Android app it pisses me off so much I rage quit in disgust. They just don't seem willing to respect their users at all, when it's not spamming constant book suggestions it's spamming constant reminders to use FB or Twitter or whatever the social media 'of the day' happens to be.

And the bugs just never end. Last attempt lasted just long enough to open my current book at the time, watch the app die, repeat 2x, uninstall.

Leaves me wondering just how many of that 12mil users signed up to check out Kobo on their mobile/tablet and didn't like what they saw. The shear difficulty finding books to download in their app was a bad start, the inability to guarantee I could even read them if I bought sealed the deal. The Kobo Touch I found annoyingly sluggish so even the hardware hasn't really appealed.

So another 'user' unlikely to spend anything with Kobo.

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Re: I'm one of that 12mil

Can't comment on the Android App but I think the article is mainly about the Kobo hardware. I think it's only exists to demonstrate that you can use the books you buy on any of your devices which is an important factor for many. On my Samsung Tab I have Aldiko for books and have not had any problems with it.

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Re: I'm one of that 12mil

It's about the 12mil users but declining ereader sales disparity really.

I initially tried the Android Kobo app to evaluate their service while looking for a reader to buy as a present. Ended up annoyed by their generally shitty attitude, both from the behaviour of their app and feedback about their 'not our problem' style of product support. That's one device+account not bought as a present and I won't be buying hardware or books for my account any time soon.

...and it's not replaced Aldiko for me either ;)

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Open platform, no lock in

Santa bought me a Kobo Mini at Xmas. I'm very pleased with it - simple interface, not locked onto a particular store, light and good build quality, excellent battery life. It will surf the net at a push.

being a dinosaur that doesn't own a smartphone (or moroniser, as I prefer to call them) then it is a much better deal than a tablet costing at least twice as much.

They are also easily hackable, the source is available if you really want to get into programming it, but being linux/busybox, there are many features waiting to be turned on for the interested user.

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Kobo, thats great news

Im a Graphic designer, who is currently going to get a double hip replacement so im currently stuck at home when everybody els is having fun, I read my pdf manuals and magazines on my laptop (macbook pro) but I dont have a need for a tablet as I have a Iphone and glasses.

I did try to read books on my phone but gave that up. (too small and too bright) I was given a kobo for Christmas (thanks Sara & Chris), and its been great. Ive managed to put away my old books and download the epub version.

Its nice to walk away from my laptop and chill and read while listening to music. fit in pocket great, Im now enjoying reading again, so what if you cant deal with pdf documents, Ive tried and omg never again, however if thats all you read find a reader that fits the bill dont give kobo a hard time im a restored paperback reader again.

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