Reading with kobo

· life · geekery ·

I love reading. I’ve been a voracious reader since I first learned to read, and while I sometimes lack the time to indulge my reading habit as much as I would like, I read at least a few pages of a book almost every day. I don’t really mind how I read. I love the experience of reading a paper book, but we don’t live in a large house, and as Mr. Bsag is as voracious a reader as I am (and also loathe to sell or give away books once he has read them), our shelves are seriously overflowing. For that reason, I have had a Kindle for many years, and use that for reading ‘standard’ books, in other words, ones without interesting illustrations or layout.

My Kindle was starting to struggle to hold a charge, and despite the fact that I have bought plenty of books in Amazon’s ecosystem, I really wanted to escape the grip of Amazon, and also start borrowing books from the library using Libby. After reading a lot of reviews, I bought a Kobo Libra 2. In short, I love it, and it has seriously boosted the amount of books I am reading.

The ergonomics are important for e-readers, and I find the asymmetrical bezels and the physical page turn buttons great for easy reading. Without a case (more on that later) it feels light and well-balanced, and the textured material on the back provides a good grip. The screen is clear, and I like the backlight for reading at night. I also enjoy the layout of the ’library’ on the device and the information about progress in the book (like the number of pages remaining in the chapter, and the progress bar across the bottom so you know where you are in the book).

I have bought a number of books at good prices, but borrowing books has also been fantastic, and I think has contributed significantly to the speed with which I have been whipping through books. It reminds me of being a kid again and racing through books so that I finish before they are due back! The integration with Libby is great, and the whole process of borrowing books from the library is very simple and streamlined. I am not really one for audiobooks, because I like the process of reading with my eyes, and find audiobooks oddly inefficient, because I know that I could read it faster than I could listen to it. I know that many people like them because they can listen while they do something else, but I can’t seem to focus on two things at one time, and miss bits of the story! Having said that, I listened to The Western Wind by Samantha Harvey, also borrowed from the library, and found it enormously atmospheric and evocative.

I have also started using Book Tracker to organise my reading wish list, keep track of what books I have physically on my (tightly packed) shelves, which I have on hold at the library, and so on. I also use it (as a bit of fun) to keep track of progress on my current reading. It’s a great app, and easy to add books to your wish list if you read a review or if a friend recommends a book to you. I had all sorts of scattered methods of doing this before, so it is nice to have that organised.

I mentioned earlier that the Kobo feels light and well balanced without a case. I didn’t buy the ‘official’ Kobo sleep case for it, but got a cheap generic one instead. It works well enough, but was prone to waking the reader up if the flap was jostled, and it added more to the apparent weight of the reader than I liked. The case actually doesn’t weigh much, so it could be because it changes the balance of the device, and — perceptually, if not in actual grams — makes it seem much heavier.

I will keep the cover for travelling with the Kobo, because it protects the device well, but for everyday use, I made a simple slip case for it using some wool felt (left over from making my keyboard mat), and some cork fabric (actual cork thinly sliced and glued to a canvas backing) that was also an offcut from another project. I made it last weekend, without any great plan, just trying things out and fitting it as I went. I made the inner felt pouch first, then fitted the cork outer over that, slipping a couple of sheets of cardboard between the two layers for added protection and rigidity. Finally, I hand sewed some black twill tape to seal the opening of the two nested layers and provide a bound edge around it. I’m surprised that it looks pretty good, considering the ad hoc way I put it together, but it is nicely functional and fits the device snugly (so that it is not in danger of slipping out), but also lets you insert and remove it easily.

I like the Kobo so much more than the Kindle, and the added advantage of being able to load up standard ePub books and borrow from the library made it worth breaking away from the Kindle ecosystem.