Me, blogging from parents' homeThis weekend I went down to my parents’ house, spending half of Saturday and most of Sunday visiting with my parents, brother and sister-in-law, and two-month-old niece, and blogging from home. (That’s me at left, blogging from my parents’ kitchen table with my Kobo and iPad visible in the background.) When I went, I took my new Kobo Wireless reader and the Literati I was reviewing with me.

While the Literati didn’t last long, the Kobo made a lasting impression on my father. (I wish I’d remembered to photograph him reading it.) A longtime fan of Anthony Trollope, he fell in love while reading the Trollope story “Aaron Trow” from its screen, and sent me back with a check asking me to pick one up for him. (I hope the local Borders still has some. I’ll be leaving for work early today to check. It seems that some Borders are marking their Kobos down to $40; it would be great if that happened here so I could afford to get one for each parent.)

I think the Kobo will make a great choice for my parents’ e-reading needs. My folks have very little interest in buying e-books. Dad doesn’t even buy new paperback books, let alone hardcovers—he tends to restrict his purchases to used books. (He has plenty of patience, so sees no need to pay a premium for impatience.)

But he’s very interested in Project Gutenberg. As he was browsing Project Gutenberg, peering with interest at the 76 Trollope titles available, marveling at all the Wilkie Collins titles he’d never heard of, and telling me how R. Austin Freeman’s novel The Red Thumb-mark represented the first use of counterfeit fingerprints in a detective story, he remarked that the e-reader would open up a whole new world for him.

With that in mind, a reader that can handle EPUB files is a must. Since he has no interest in new-book shopping, an integrated store isn’t really an important consideration. It doesn’t matter if Borders goes belly-up; he’ll keep downloading and reading EPUBs from Project Gutenberg with no problems at all. And likewise, integrated Internet doesn’t matter either because they don’t use the Internet that much anyway.

I fear I may end up like Joanna in that I have to load the e-books onto the device for him, but I’m at least going to try to teach him how it’s done, since I’d like for him to be able to do it himself. We’ll see how it goes.


  1. The Kobo is a simple to use, basic e-reader. In this case, the wifi capability won’t ever be used: it is for purchases only.

    Your dad should get hooked up with his local library, if they have ePub books via Overdrive.

    So make sure your dad is comfy with Adobe ADE software as the sole interface to the computer: he’ll be able to borrow books, use it to import Project Gutenberg titles, and manage them all with the one piece of software.

    It might be helpful to delete the “free” books right up front so they are “out of the way” given the way your dad plans to use the device.

    Penultimate tip: you can’t “delete” stuff from the Kobo using the software — you’ll need to, once and a while, open Windows Explorer and manually delete ePub files.

    Final word: Calibre is always an option to manage the Kobo but if something goes wrong, it takes a it more technical savvy to put things right again.

  2. The only easy way to delete the free titles which come on a Kobo is from the Kobo itself, one at time. It’s boring but not that big a deal. I kept some, but the ones I knew for sure I didn’t want got deleted over several days. Don’t try to do it all at once. If your dad is enamored of Project Gutenberg, then perhaps it’s a good idea to leave them on there.

  3. Buy him a Kindle 3G and you won’t have to do a thing. He’ll be able to do everything himself without your aid. The reading experience on a Kindle is much better than on a Kobo reader by a million miles.

  4. Ooh, I need to download that R. Austin Freeman book. Thanks to your dad for the recommendation!

    I also purchased a Kobo at a closing Borders. I already had a large Kobo library from using other ADE-compliant devices, so it made a lot of sense for me. I love using the wifi to sync my device with the store, but sideloading is easy enough to do from ADE. I’m not sure if you can click and drag books onto the device–haven’t played around with it enough yet to find out.

  5. I purchased a Kobo on clearance to compare it to my Kindle 3 (Wifi/3G) and to see if it might be something my mother would like. The Kobo screen is nearly identical to the Kindle screen in size and e-ink quality but the overall size is slightly smaller since there is no “keyboard”.

    There are pros and cons for the Kobo (as is true for most things in life). It does a much better job with Table of Contents than the Kindle. The Kobo is a simpler device because it is just basically an e-reader. While I prefer the Kindle I think my mother will like the simpler Kobo.

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