Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Kobo disses Linux

The day before Thanksgiving, I had found a great deal on something I had been pining to get ever since my cousin got one: an ebook reader. Now, I had ebook reading apps on my Android phone and Linux desktop, but the phone's screen is too small for proper book reading compared to tablets and ereaders like the Kindle. So I was stoked to find that Dollar General was selling this ebook reader for a jaw-dropping $50 on Thanksgiving Day only(I should have waited a week as it's now $45 for Christmas). So I ordered it online on Thanksgiving and received it in the mail on Monday.

After fiddling around with it a bit, I figured out how to add ebooks to it via USB to my Linux desktop PC. An easy affair, but today I wanted to give the Kobo bookstore a try, since the ereader's maker claimed that it worked with Kobo.

Unfortunately, Kobo failed me here. It turns out that Kobo follows the "iTunes/iPod" model when syncing to ereaders that lack internet capability. The ereader I bought did come bundled with the Kobo Desktop app, but only for Windows and Mac. There's no Linux version at all(officially at least), and when I got an ebook via the Kobo webstore, it doesn't give the option to download the ebook for USB transfer to the reader. So I'm left with no way to put Kobo-bought books on my device.

But instead of slamming Kobo for this, I'd like to suggest a solution for this lack of Linux support(I'm aware there is an "unofficial" Debian-based port of Kobo Desktop, but it's 32-bit only and won't install on my 64-bit machine): Make an OS-agnostic web version of the Kobo Desktop app. Or at the very least enable USB syncing via the web bookstore. Until such a solution is made, my only options are getting non-DRM ebooks elsewhere or get a different ebook reader with better Linux support(meaning either way that Kobo loses my business).

Update: I have installed the Windows version of Kobo Desktop via Wine, and it works great except that the app won't recognize the ereader when I connect it via USB . So I've made some progress, but the main complaint still stands.