Why I didn’t buy a Kindle…..

January 6, 2012

Today I finally took the plunge and bought an eBook Reader; however, it wasn’t one of Amazon’s seemingly all-conquering Kindles. Why not?

The Kindle looks, without doubt, a cracking device. It’s incredibly popular, available in many places retail as well as from Amazon themselves, and for what it is it’s surprisingly inexpensive now when compared to for example Sony’s competing products. But I didn’t get one.

What I got was a Kobo¬†Wireless eReader. Yes, it’s cheaper than the Kindle – I got mine for less than ¬£70 – but price was not my primary motivation. It was, in fact, that the Kobo – unlike the current Kindles – supports the ePub format.

One of the things that had made me delay getting an eReader is what you might call the legacy issue. When I first got an iPod, one of the more painful processes was getting my existing music collection onto it: I sat there feeding CDs into the computer, letting it rip them, for hours at a time. Once done however, it ceased to be an issue: the CDs now live mostly in the loft, but I can still listen to them because they’re all on the iPod – or at least in my iTunes library. For books however, there is no analogue. I suppose in theory I could sit there and scan every page of every book I own, but I doubt anyone has ever done it. I don’t really want to go and re-buy them all either. One solution therefore is to borrow them as and when via the local Public Library – and that is one thing where the Kobo – for now at least – wins over the Kindle.

Our local libraries use the system provided by Overdrive for lending digitally, and although the US has started to get Kindle compatibility, at the moment we are still only being promised this in the UK “soon”. And if you’re after Public Domain works, then it’s pretty easy to get them too. And you are not tied to where you purchase the content from.

Amazon quite possibly sell the Kindle at a minimal profit or even at a slight loss, because you will then be tied in to their store for all your eBook purchases. Their format is not supported on other eReaders (I discount tablets and the like here) so you can’t take them elsewhere; you can’t buy your eBooks from say Waterstones and move them to Kindle. While I can’t transfer Kindle eBooks to my Kobo, I can get them from numerous other sources – and, at that, some sources that will accept payment in Book Tokens, something that Amazon don’t.

So far the Kobo looks a pretty good device. I suspect that the Kindle is more polished, and almost certainly provides a better, more integrated experience; but until I’m not exclusively tied into purchasing titles from Amazon with it, I’m prepared to give the Kobo a good go.