So I have been using the Kobo now for almost a week, and I must say I have enjoyed using it. The touch interface seems responsive and is fun to use. There are many things I prefer about the Kobo user interface to the Kindle interface – the use of book covers for one thing. Some of those are very attractive and the Kindle’s text-based user interface seems a little basic by comparison. Of course, I have not seen the UI for the Kindle Touch, but from the video of the Amazon press conference it seems as if it is still predominantly text based. Amazon’s Collections feature where you can categorise your books into user defined groups for easier searching is one thing I find hard to live without. Currently I only have a few books on the Kobo, so choosing/finding one is not too tricky, but on my Kindle I have over 30 pages of books.
A lot of the things I like about my Kindle are UI based. I enjoy sharing on my Facebook page and Twitter feed when I find an interesting passage or have finished a book. I just find that more intuitive on the Kindle than the Kobo. Of course, maybe I’m just not used to the Kobo enough. I also believe that the Amazon e-reading experience and infrastructure is geared towards simplicity in a way that the Kobo’s is not.
From what I’ve seen, the major difference between the Kobo and the Kindle is that the Kobo is a stand-alone reader capable of reading industry standard ebooks from multiple suppliers whereas the Kindle is an integral and highly integrated part of one major supplier’s ebook offering. For Kobo this means that you are free to purchase/download ebooks from any number of sellers and libraries. In the Kindle’s case, this allows hardware, software and surrounding infrastructure all to work together seamlessly. The downside of this is, it is a closed environment, and you are dependant on Amazon.
That does concern me somewhat. I do worry what would happen in the – very unlikely – event that Amazon were to close its doors and no longer support its Kindle ereader. I have now invested heavily in Kindle format ebooks and it would be a serious undertaking to convert them all to the more open ePub format. If my ebooks were in the open ePub format, I could put them on many other ereaders and they would be perfectly readable.
At this point though, I am beginning to appreciate the whole Amazon infrastructure; book selection, ease of use, Whispersync synchronisation, customer service. Despite my frustration at the US-centric focus, I am in general happy with the Kindle, and will likely to continue using it as my ebook reader and Amazon as my main supplier. That is not to say there is no room for the Kobo there. I am seriously tempted to keep it, too, in order to read library books and other ePub books not available for the Kindle.