Taking Sides: Onto Kobo

I’ll be honest: I haven’t exactly figured this part out to my satisfaction yet. I’ve installed the Kobo Touch Extended Driver into Calibre (remembering to disable the Kobo Touch basic driver), and the Kobo Utilities too. And I’m mostly—but not entirely—happy with the results.

A big part of the challenge is that the Kindle uses a different e-book format, or family of formats (.azw, .az3, and possibly others) than pretty much everybody else, who mostly use Adobe’s .epub format. (Everybody supports reading .pdf files, but since they’re laid out for a specific page size, they’re often hard to read on e-books.)

I started with a bulk convert of my .az3 format books to .epub, which appears to be the preferred format of the Kobo. (I thought I could use .mobi files, but I seemed to have some trouble with tables of contents.) I configured Calibre to prefer .epub to the .mobi format, which both Kindles and other devices read, and transferred the files.

Some looked great. Some didn’t. They suffered from random page breaks. Turns out this is a known issue, and the solution is to change a conversion setting and regenerate.

But now I don’t know which .epub files are correct-from-the-publisher files, and which are Calibre generated! And I don’t know which books have problems and which don’t. So I’ll have to regenerate files as I discover problems. Ugly.

Files transfer easily onto the Kobo, once you figure out how to make the interface go. There’s no sync button, bidirectionally copying everything. You can sort by the check-mark that indicates a file is on the device, select everything without the checkmark, and then copy the files—then repeat for the reverse direction. That’s ugly too.

Also ugly: If I use the basic Kobo driver, the page footer shows how my page number relative to the whole book (e.g., “Page 103 of 411”), but if I use the enhanced driver, the page footer shows my page number relative to the chapter I’m in (e.g., “Chapter 5 – page 2 of 6”). There doesn’t seem to be a way to see both of these numbers, the way I can tap between them on my Kindle.

Still, I have books on my Kobo, including my Amazon-purchased books, and I can read them. That’s great. The fiddling I’ll need to continue to do, to address formatting and file transfer issues, that’s less great.