Before I begin, I want to lead in with full disclosure. I have never tried the Apple iTunes iBookstore. You might find it odd that I'm willing to declare a clear preference between two options without actually having tried both. But I have good reason to feel that when it comes to eBooks, Chapters/Indigo's Kobo Books is the way to go.
While my scenario might not be common, situations very similar to it are likely to arise in many a household. We have one iPad between my significant other and I. Technically, it's his since he purchased it partially for work use; although I do tend to monopolize it whenever it's at home. However, with the ability to use only one iTunes account per device, I'm stuck using his instead of being able to sync mine.
Nevertheless, after finishing off a great novel (Stieg Larsson's Girl With the Dragon Tattoo in physical hardcover format) late on a Sunday night, I was anxious to get going on the second in the series: Girl Who Played With Fire. Stores weren't open, obviously, but a thought popped into my head: I could get it instantly in digital format. I've been meaning to cut down on the book clutter anyway: the overflowing tower shelf in the living room has become an eye sore in the corner. So I downloaded the Kobo Books app to the unit; partially because I was familiar with it having previously used it on a BlackBerry, and partially because we had the iPad prior to its official release in Canada, so the iBookStore was not accessible just yet. I purchased the book in mere minutes, and was curled up on the couch immersed in the first chapter in no time.
Now I'm halfway through the book, and excitedly getting ready to head off for a weekend trip to the Big Apple. But since my significant other is traveling as well, and leaving a few days ahead of me, he'll be taking the iPad with him. Darn! That means I can't continue the book in the airport and during the flight there and back. I could start a new one, or just read a magazine, or catch some ZZZs instead. But gosh darned it, with all of this technology literally at my fingertips, I find it frustrating that I can't enjoy my book using another device.
Ah-ha, but alas, I can! Download the Kobo app to my iPhone, log in to my account, and there lies my downloaded books. Open one up, flip to the page I left off on with the iPad, and read away. It's not as attractive an option as the iPad, but the most important part is that it is an option.
And now I get to the Apple iBookstore. Research online tells me that it only works with the iPad. So not only is Apple limiting accessibility to its own offerings (don't even get my started with video!) the company is not letting you enjoy content across its own products. (I will grant, however, that the company did permit entrance of the Kobo Books app through the iTunes App Store. But then again, what justification would Apple have had not to do so?)
Nevertheless, for the accessibility factor alone, I'd opt for Kobo. This will not only come in handy for people in my situation who only have one iPad for the entire family. But also if you find yourself waiting an extra long time at the doctor's office, or for a meeting, or in the car during a long road trip. If you don't have the iPad with you, or the battery is drained, at least you know you can pick up where you left off with a book by using your mobile device.
But there are other reasons. For example, Kobo is a Canadian initiative. You'll feel there's a personal relationship with the company, with special promotions and book recommendations sent through e-mail or via groups on sites like Facebook. And just like with the iBookstore, you can see all of your downloaded titles in a virtual bookshelf, bookmark pages, swipe to turn pages, adjust fonts and backlighting, and even use a really handy night reading mode with white text on a black background. But for me, the multi-device support is the clincher: Kobo has an app for all popular mobile phone platforms, not just iPhone, including the BlackBerry, Android, and Palm Pre.
I'm sure Apple will soon come out with a complementary app for the iPhone/iTouch that allows customers to read books seamlessly on devices other than the iPad. (Likely along with the launch of the iPhone 4.) But even when the company does, there are still advantages in going with a service like Kobo. Once I get my own iPad, I won't have to worry about licensing issues or paying for books twice since I've already purchased them through my partner's iTunes account. Kobo books are purchased through your own personal Kobo account. This means that no matter what device you're using, you can access them. No restrictions, no headaches. I don't even need to try out iBookstore to determine that.
Sorry Apple, but iBookstore will not be myBookstore.
You can create a Kobo account at www.kobobooks.com and download the app from a compatible mobile device via its respective app stores: just run a search for "kobo" and you should find it.
Return to Complete Blog Listings