Kobo is a free e-book Reader App, compatible with Android, iOS, Mac, PC and Blackberry devices (too bad if you own a Windows Phone).
I stumbled upon it quite by chance, while surfing through the Playstore available on my Samsung Galaxy Tab. And, I must say this chance discovery has opened a whole new world of e-books for me. I have already downloaded quite a few classics and have finished The Secret Adversary on Kobo, my first ever book by Agatha Christie.
A few days back, I seriously believed that nothing in the world can emulate the feeling of an actual book. I stubbornly refused to move onto online reading. But this one time read on Kobo has changed my perspective quite a bit.
Though, I have not wholly converted to e-books, and still regularly visit my local library for fortnightly doses of regular books, I think, the portability factor of e-books and the convenience of e-readers have really impressed me!
For starters, Kobo is a very basic e-reader. It comes for free, and has the fundamental features to make reading on tablets/smartphones quite easy and fluent.
There are thousands of titles available in the Kobo store, and all one has to do is click on it, pay the required amount and download the e-book on your device.
Once the e-book has been downloaded, it reflects on your phone/tab in the library section and can be read even if there is no internet connection available. This should come in quite handy while traveling, when you don’t have access to internet or do not wish to pay the high data transfer fees of mobile networks.
Most of the books offer a preview option, where you can download an overview and read it, before buying the entire book. This feature is really useful for finicky readers like me, who want to have a bite before ordering the dish!
I found Kobo quite easy to use. It has limited features and options, but for a first time e-reader like me, the simplicity is actually quite inviting. The default settings are excellent and can be used without any tinkering.
Though, the app does offer the choice of layout and fonts. The layout of the e-book can be adjusted as single page or double page. Personally, I found the single page layout much more spacious and clean, but, I think, it depends on individual choice and quality of your device’s screen. There are choices of two fonts. I mostly used the default font and found it quite easy on eyes.
Once I began reading, I found the experience almost akin to paperbacks, especially due to the smooth turning of pages. The pages are simply turned by lightly tapping on the edge of the device. Though, the volume key can also be set for turning the page.
If you are fond of highlighting your favorite phrases or quotes, Kobo offers a ‘Select Text’ option, for which screen is to be tapped for a wee bit longer. The text can be selected with the help of small cursors and the selected text may then be either highlighted or notes may be added or even the same could be shared on Facebook by a single click.
Another interesting feature is the inclusion of Bookmarks. The moment, you press the exit/home button, your book is closed with a specific bookmark, so that next time, the e-book would be opened at the very page, you left it last time. Quite useful, especially if you are in the habit of taking frequent breaks while reading or multi-tasking.
I used the Highlight option quite extensively. Though, I usually shy away from underlining in borrowed or bought books, for the fear of spoiling their looks, here I loved doing it. I also used the ‘Add note’ option, mostly for adding synonyms or meaning of difficult words I encountered during reading.
But, here I think, Kobo could have improvised, as there is no option of an in-built or downloadable dictionary and I had to manually enter the words in Browser to know the meaning, which is quite tedious and breaks the rhythm. This is a prime reason that though I began reading Agnes Grey, much before Secret Adversary, I am yet to finish it!
Another let down is the absence of books by Indian authors. Leave alone modern writers, I could not even get classic Indian books on Kobo!
But, all in all, Kobo is a decent e-reader, with lots of free and paid books, though till date I have only used the free books section, may be in future, I will buy some.