Monday, March 01, 2010

Initial Thoughts: Kobo Books

I'm almost half-way through my 2nd eBook I've purchased via the Kobo Books app on my Palm Pre.  So far, I've been really disappointed and I don't think I'll buy any more books from them.  My biggest complaint is that the text display is horribly wasteful.  With the narrowest margins and the smallest text (which are the defaults), it still only displays 17 lines of text.  That might sound like a lot, but it skips a line of text for each new paragraph and the screen isn't very wide either.  There would be room for at least 4-5 more lines if the display was actually fullscreen and didn't leave so much empty space for when the UI buttons appear (but they disappear while reading unless you bring them back up manually).  The buttons are almost never there, and yet it just leaves the space empty instead of using it for displaying text.  I'd even argue that the buttons are useless and everything they do can be accomplished via swiping gestures and/or just tap-holding the display to bring up a menu for bookmarks, book information, etc.  It also does not support landscape viewing.

On a few occasions it's even dropped text at the end of a chapter!  I noticed this on a couple chapters in the 2nd book I've read (Darkly Dreaming Dexter), but now it has me wondering if I missed text in the 1st book I read on it too (Checklist Manifesto)!  To add icing on the cake, I also haven't been able to use the bookmark feature the last few nights and it hasn't allowed me to download Darkly Dreaming Dexter to my phone so I can read it without having a data connection present.  This is especially disappointing because the whole motto of WebOS is to automatically save your data whenever you exit/close an application.  With all of the other phone applications, such as the memo pad or the task list, it automatically saves my data when I close the application so I don't need to manually press "save" to preserve my changes.  And yet with Kobo, I have to bring up the UI buttons and then save a bookmark (assuming I have a current data connection and the feature is working).  When opening Kobo back up, I have to navigate to my library and then select the book, when it seems much more practical to take me back to wherever I left off in my current book instead of me having to waste time getting back to it.  The "home screen" when opening up the application is actually a list of books that you can spend more money on.  How convenient.  It'd be nice if they tried to make it easier for me to actually read my eBooks instead of just making it easy to spend money on them.

As I've stated before, I was very excited about Kobo Books, but the software has really failed to deliver.  I'll post more information about the software (with some screenshots to show what I mean about the UI) as well as the books I've read after I get through my histology exam this week.

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