Kobo has been in business since 2009.
Although it only carries ebooks, Kobo’s online bookstore features almost 4 million titles in a whopping 68 languages – how’s that for an extensive, international selection? Of the ten New York Times bestselling-books we used as part of our comparison process, Kobo had them all. Kobo also offers a variety of emagazines and sells certified factory-refurbished ereading devices.
Kobo’s search feature works well – we found the titles we were looking for easily, without having to refine or rephrase the searches. The search results also loaded very quickly in comparison to other sites. There is no advanced search feature like many of the other online bookstores we reviewed, but Kobo really doesn’t need to offer one considering how quick and accurate the basic search functionality is.
We also like the layout of information when viewing a specific title: the price, plot synopsis and publisher’s information is easy to find, and Kobo also suggests similar titles to consider. In addition, there is a bar near the bottom of the page featuring all the types of devices that the title can be read on, which is a convenient, at-a-glance way to see if the book is compatible with your devices.
It’s worth noting that Kobo has an open platform, meaning you’ll be able to upload and read content from a variety of sources.
A downside of using Kobo is the lack of a list-save function, such as the wishlist feature that most other online bookstores offer. You can save items in the cart, but you’ll need to return to Kobo from the same browser if you want to purchase them later – and it won’t be useful as a mechanism to save books you’d like to read in the future.
Another oversight of Kobo’s online bookstore is that it doesn’t include editorial or user reviews about the books it offers. This is fine if you know what book you’re looking for and you’re confident you’ll like it, but it’s a major drawback if you don’t – you’ll need to Google the title or visit other sites to see what other readers thought about it.
The only feature of Kobo that didn’t work well for us was the Get Help section. Our searches didn’t return accurate results – or sometimes no results at all. We also had trouble finding some of the basic frequently asked questions that are usually included in these sections, such as a return policy. We had to do some digging to find Kobo’s policy, which, by the way states that all book sales are final. Kobo does offer refunds on emagazines, but only for the issues that haven’t been read yet.
And if you’re looking for cheap books, Kobo isn’t your best bet: in comparison to the other online bookstores we reviewed, Kobo’s prices were some of the highest.