The Kobo Touch eReader: A Review

I have finally joined the 21st century as a reader: For Christmas, I received a Kobo Touch eReader.

Loves:

  • Instant books! Free classics!
  • The ability to buy books in Canada and the United States.
  • The e-Ink and the background display are very easy and comfortable to read.
  • The Book View Cafe, a website where e-readers can purchase certain books by certain authors for lower prices than can sometimes be found on the Kobo site.
  • Being able to multitask while reading. Finally, I can read and eat at the same time without having to stop to turn the pages!
  • Being able to define words within a text while reading. This is going to refine and polish my vocabulary, which is currently very broad but often uncertain. I can place many familiar but not-often-used words in context, but frequently cannot define them precisely – until now.
  • The annotations have been useful, especially when I look up unknown words. I use them to keep the definition within the text. The annotations themselves are also searchable, which means I can look up the annotations I’ve already made if I have forgotten the meaning of a word, for example.
  •  I also really like the continuation of the idea of creating marginalia and annotations in reading material from the analog to the digital. I certainly prefer trying to decipher other people’s handwriting, but I am glad annotations are not completely absent from e-reading. It would be interesting to conduct a study of how, when, and why readers make handwritten annotations and how, when, and why readers make electronic annotations – are the two practices different?
  • I haven’t really used the Search Within The Book function, although I have played around with it a little, and if I actually remember to use it, I imagine it could be very handy when I forget some plot detail along the way.
  • It travels handily, given its relative size and the space it holds for books. No more packing three books for vacation that take up valuable space in luggage! It also fits in my pocket.
  • I like being able to read pdfs on the Kobo, but .. (see Dislike #2).

Dislikes:

  • Jumpy page-turning, which can be distracting.
  • Book (and pdf) formats that don’t fit on the small Kobo screen.
  • Old, messy Gutenberg project examples of classics. This, of course, is easily solved by purchasing other versions of the texts, or by finding other versions of free classics.
  • It is an electronic device, and therefore must be turned off for take-offs and landings when flying. Which leaves me with nothing to do but sleep, if I haven’t got a TV in the back of the seat in front of me or an old-fashioned book in the seat pocket. This is something I only figured out on the plane home from Christmas vacation.

Other Comments:

I can’t compare the Kobo to the Kindle or the Nook, since I haven’t used either of the others. I have, however, seen that the Kobo is smaller than the Kindle. At this point, I am happy with the size, although I have no strong feelings about it.

I haven’t tried borrowing books from the library yet, since I’ve been taking this opportunity to buy books that the library doesn’t have in its collection (to the detriment of my bank account).

My verdict on the “Reading Life” feature is still unknown, but I do find it interesting, and kind of fun, to see which badges I win as I read. For non-readers, this could act as encouragement to continue reading and to read more, for those users who also find badge-winning to be interesting. It acts on the “reward” behavior principle.

I haven’t tried purchasing books from Barnes and Noble yet, but I would like to see if they are truly compatible with Kobo and if they are at all cheaper than buying from Kobo.com.

Ultimately,

I really love reading from the Kobo, which has many useful, fun, and interesting features. However, this love has in no way replaced my love for paper books, nor are the advantages to the eReader any more beloved than the features I love in the old-fashioned books. I have room in my heart, and in my reading practices, for both.

That’s all for now!

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