ereaderSeveral users at Mobileread are reporting issues with their Paperwhites now that the Kindle ecosystem is managing collections through the cloud. A few people are complaining that the ‘cloud’ aspect is forcing them to wade through content they don’t care for—for instance, a collection belonging to a spouse or child who shares their account, which previously would be local to that user’s device only. A few others who prefer to sideload their books and keep Wi-Fi access minimized are reporting that their reading experience is being interrupted by nags from the device to connect to Wi-Fi so it can update the collections.

I have not seen these problems personally because I have been using a Kobo for some time. But I do feel the pain of the Wi-Fi-less eReader user. My Kobo is just fine as a non-connected reader once it’s been set up, but the setup—which is compulsory—does require both an internet connection and a Kobo account. You can’t get past that first welcome screen unless you do it. That might seem like a small issue, but there have been a few times when I have been out with the reader, it’s crashed and I’ve had to reset it. I had sideloaded books on there I could have gone straight back to on the bus ride home, but it wouldn’t let me into my library until I had hooked it up with my Kobo account online, so my reader was useless for the rest of the day and I spent my commute reading subway ads.

I appreciate that Kindle (and Kobo, and Nook) all have bookstore ecosystems which are meant to be part of the experience, and that they don’t per se intend for you to go off on your own somewhere and leave their little walled garden. Indeed, the posters in that thread who have the wireless always on and who only buy their books from the Kindle store had no complaints with their experience. But I do think that many readers still appreciate an off-line option. I have been leaving my Kobo connected, for the most part, because I have been making use of the new Pocket feature. But I do appreciate that I at least have the option to go out into the city, away from my comfy home Wi-Fi network, and read a book without getting nags from my device to go and find a Wi-Fi signal. Aside from the setup issue, which I do think is annoying but which thankfully does not come up very often, the Kobo seems quite happy to let me go online when I want to and stay off-line when I want to as well.

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"I’m a journalist, a teacher and an e-book fiend. I work as a French teacher at a K-3 private school. I use drama, music, puppets, props and all manner of tech in my job, and I love it. I enjoy moving between all the classes and having a relationship with each child in the school. Kids are hilarious, and I enjoy watching them grow and learn. My current device of choice for reading is my Amazon Kindle Touch, but I have owned or used devices by Sony, Kobo, Aluratek and others. I also read on my tablet devices using the Kindle app, and I enjoy synching between them, so that I’m always up to date no matter where I am or what I have with me."


  1. Most if not all epaper readers seem locked into a retailer’s ecosystem. It’d be great if there were some that were Android-based, open-source, and able to run ereader and other software from any source. There are times with a bright iPad-like screen is a nuisance and epaper a plus.

    The reader could be configured to work with public or school libraries as well as subscription services, so it could have a wide appeal.

    –Michael W. Perry, Inkling Books

  2. Did you register the Kobo with Adobe? I use my Kobo with the Wifi disabled and have had to reset but haven’t been locked out of my library. I just load the book I was reading and continue on. I’m wondering if the difference is that I’ve never registered the device with Adobe. The only time that I enable Wifi is when I want to update the firmware.

  3. For those with of a bit of adventurous spirit, it’s actaully easy to bypass setup on kobo by injecting an SQL command into the database file. Whether you do bypass the setup, or connect it to a kobo account, I think it’s a good idea to make a backup copy of the KoboReader.sqlite file. I keep a backup copy right on the device, for those innevitable times Kobo needs a database reset. (of course, if something like that happens on your commute, you would still have to find a pc you can use to copy the backup file back. Nowadays, it’s probably easier to find wifi to sync with kobo account.)

  4. I have kept my Kindle Paperwhite in Airplane mode. I did not like the idea of it sending reports about my behaviour to Amazon and I did not want it to update itself and cancel my hacks that made the use of it bearable. I have sold my KPW with a loss as soon as PocketBook came out with a front-lit model.

    Reader that HAS to be connected to a mothership after a purchase or a reset is unacceptable to me. What if I go camping for a week and the first evening I have to reset that thing?
    Once I went to a mountain hotel (with no Internet) and I left the charger for my Sony PRS-500 at home. I wanted to charge my reader from a borrowed notebook using USB cable, but Sony, in their infinite windsdom only allowed charging (and copying of files) when you had the driver installed on that PC. I had to persuade somebody to download that *bloody* huge Sony PRS driver to his notebook through slow GPRS connection, so I would’t be left without a reader for the next 5 days *on holiday*.
    I will never ever buy a reader that will hold itself hostage until you register it.
    What if Kobo goes out of business next year and they switch off authorization servers?

    The last time I connected my PocketBook to the WiFi was when I wanted to run an ftp server on it, so I could have a look at the files on the internal partition. It doesn’t have to be registered, and it will not update itself without your consent when you do connect it to the net. It does have social networks integration and can connect to Dropbox, but those features are *optional*.

  5. The very idea of being forced to use “Cloud” as the storage for ebooks made me shun Kindle completely. I still buy hard copies from, but when it comes to ebooks, Kindle is a non-starter for me. All my ebooks are copied from a PC to my Kobo reader, which is a much more user friendly device that even allows me to set up its UI in Japanese, and comes with a pretty good Japanese dictionary to boot.

  6. Note that you can download your Kindle books to your PC and add them to Calibre. Even if they’re DRM’d and you don’t add Apprentice Alf to strip that, Calibre can still keep them and sync them across to your Kindle. I keep my Calibre library in a different cloud—Dropbox—so I can make sure not to lose it if my computer goes belly-up.

  7. I only switch on the Wi-Fi of my Kindle after I “buy” a book from Amazon. Wi-Fi is not necessary when I read books as I don’t use the “translate” or “Wikipedia” function while reading (the dictionary satisfies me). I only use my “Kindle” to read ebooks, so I don’t need to sync my furthest page.

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