The Alternative to Amazon

last updated: 14 February 2017 (approximate reading time: 3 minutes; 465 words)

Amazon dominates. You’ve probably noticed.

But if you’re looking for ebooks, Amazon is not the only choice. In terms of global players, there are three main alternatives:

  • Apple
  • Google
  • Kobo

I’d like to make the suggestion that if you’re queasy about buying from Amazon you take a look at Kobo.

About Kobo

Kobo has been around for a while.

It is a Canadian company (although now owned by the Japanese company Rakuten) and for a while, the company was the route to sell ebooks in Canada. However, it has been slowly picking up business as others companies have pulled out, so for instance:

  • When Sony pulled out of the ebook market, they transferred their business to Kobo.
  • In the UK, Waterstones ebook business transferred to Kobo.
  • Also in the UK, Barnes & Noble’s nook business which first transferred to Sainsbury’s has now transferred to Kobo (along with the other pieces of Sainsbury’s book efforts).
  • In Germany, the engine powering the Tolino brand is Kobo.
  • Most recently, in South Africa, Exclusive Books has “partnered” with Kobo which in effect means that the ebook customers have transferred to Kobo.

This is not the full extent of Kobo’s business, but I hope it gives you some idea of the breadth of the company’s scope.

One significant aspect of this global expansion is that books are now often priced in local currencies so prices won’t fluctuate as the local currency shifts against the dollar. I can’t guarantee this, but there is the possibility.

How Easy?

Using Kobo is comparatively simple. You need an account and you need a reading device.

An account is straightforward—Kobo want to know who you are and want a method to charge you. And if you’re one of the people who was with a previous vendor (such as Sony, Waterstones, Sainsbury’s, B&N, or Executive Books) your account may already be there.

Then you need a reading device. The simplest option here is to load a Kobo app onto the phone or tablet that you already own. Kobo make apps for most devices including for Android (Samsung and similar phones), Apple (iPhone and iPad), Blackberry, and you can also read on your computer (Mac or Windows).

In addition, Kobo offer a range of eink devices (think of these as being the Kobo equivalent of the Kindle and you’ll be getting close). While there is the option to buy dedicated hardware, you probably don’t need to—your existing phone or tablet will probably be sufficient; you just need to get hold of the Kobo app.

Once You’re Set Up

Once you’re set up, you can get reading.

If you haven’t looked around the Kobo store, you can always start by checking out this author (and yes, I do realize that some of the covers need to be updated).

Filed under

Category: current affairs
Tags: Amazon   Kobo   ebooks