Buying an E-Reader? Read this first!

E-Reader Reviews

I have never used City Mom to warn readers of a product or service that I felt wasn’t up to par. But today that is all changing. Unfortunately, I have experienced a truly disappointing situation with what was once one of my favourite products that I have ever invested in.

It is this disappointment that compels me to share it with the public in hopes that others don’t make the same mistake that I have.


When I first decided to switch from paper-based books to an e-reader, I struggled; I am one who loves the tactile experience of a traditional book. I love turning the pages and the smell of the paper inside. Usually when I finish a book (if it was really good) I’ll sit holding the book for a while and digest the story and the characters. To me, reading is as much a physical activity as it is visual.

In the end I opted for convenience and ease and chose to make an e-reader purchase. That was another tough decision; with all the choices out there, how does one know which one to choose?


Before choosing the right e-reader for my needs, I carefully compared the major devices on the market at the time. I focused on things such as price, size and weight, screen size, library choices and functionality of the e-readers. I was not an iPad owner and I felt the screen on my iPhone was too small for my reading preferences so neither of these media were options for me.

After gathering the information, I happily decided on the Kobo E-Reader by Kobo Inc. which (at the time) was owned by Indigo Books and Music, a Canadian retailer. (Note that today Kobo is owned by Rakuten Inc. a Japanese based company with its headquarters in Toronto, Ontario.)

The fact that I was already a huge fan of Indigo Books and Music played a role in my decision to buy Kobo, after all, Chapters is my “happy place”. I felt peace of mind knowing that I trusted this brand and assumed that their product wouldn’t disappoint.


I have owned my Kobo Touch for almost two years (the one year warranty period is over). In that time (up until a month ago) my e-reader didn’t disappoint. I was happy with my choice and the selection of books available to me through Kobo. That is why before my long-awaited trip to France, I added a few books to my library that I had been dying to read. Finally, after five years of being a mom, I was going to be able to finish a book and maybe even two without any interruption.

With my Kobo tucked securely into its protective case and packed on my person in my carry-on luggage, I made my way to France. When I opened it up and turned it on, ready to escape into the world of fiction, I was greeted with a frozen device. What a disappointment!

I was stuck way over there without many options. I was so sad. Thankfully my sister had lent me her iPad for my trip so that I could stay connected with family at home. I was able to download a book through iBooks and still enjoy some reading while on vacation.


When I returned home I got right to work on finding a solution to my problem. I visited Kobo’s troubleshooting section and followed the instructions listed to reset my device. That didn’t work. I tried to follow the instructions for performing a Factory Reset; however I could not turn my device off so I was unable to perform this function.

I decided to call the Kobo helpdesk for more help and they advised me to charge my device for three to five hours and then perform the steps listed on their site again. I did so and to no avail. My device was still frozen.


I called Kobo a second time to tell them the situation and this is when it turned from frustrating to downright annoying. After explaining the steps I had already performed, I was asked by the service rep if I had ever dropped my Kobo. I replied that I had not and that from day one it had been stored in a protective case.

The rep then went on to tell me that because my device had been dropped multiple times, they could not help me.

Wait! What?!

He was either not listening to me or accusing me of lying, either way, I was furious. I made sure not to lose my cool and politely asked him if he had dropped my e-reader because I sure hadn’t. Of course he sidestepped that question because duh…how could he possibly have dropped it? I think I made my point.

When I asked why Kobo wouldn’t stand behind their product he let me know that outside of the one year warranty, they couldn’t do anything and he suggested that I buy a new or refurbished e-Reader from Best Buy of Walmart.

Really? Reinvest in this company that wasn’t offering to help me out? Not likely!

I asked to speak to someone at a higher level because I believed that Kobo would want to stand behind their product that is less than two years old. I was told that my file would be escalated to the ‘executives’ only to receive an email ten minutes later summarizing our interaction with no mention of the escalation request. And now, more than 14 days later, I have not heard from the “executives”.

So let’s summarize this:

  1. I spent $200 on my original Kobo e-reader (including an ARC light for low-light reading) less than two years ago – a substantial investment to me and to most.
  2. At no fault of my own, the product stops working in less than two years of purchase.
  3. Regular intervention techniques for fixes do not work.
  4. I am accused of dropping my device multiple times even after stating I had not.
  5. I am told my issue will be escalated to a higher level – yet no response.
  6. Their solution to the problem is that I reinvest in their company and in their product.

In the end, I gave up. I know what you’re thinking, that’s what they wanted me to do right?

Instead, I decided to do my part in making sure that this does not happen to anyone else and I’m hoping that sharing my experience will help with that.

In general we should demand more for our money and invest in products that will go the distance in both quality and customer support.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles & David Castillo Dominici/

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