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Kobo Bungles the Kobo Mini Black Friday Sale

This should help you find that indie bookstore you’re looking for.

Did you know that Kobo is going to have a sale on the Kobo Mini in a couple days? They just put out a press release about it today which touts the fact that the sale will be handled via Kobo’s new indie bookseller partners (the ones I wrote about a couple days ago).

Unfortunately, I don’t know how many ereaders are going to be sold. Kobo bungled the announcement and I’m not sure how many buyers will successfully find a participating indie store to visit – not if they have to rely on Kobo, that is.

Let me explain. In addition to posting the press release Kobo also added a new search page to their site.  You can use it to search for indie booksellers who have signed up with the ABA to sell Kobo ereaders.

Pretty nifty, huh? It’s a pity it does not work.

I’ve spent a few minutes this evening double checking the search results for my area and I encountered several errors. Just looking at the results for DC and VA, I have found a couple bookstores which should not have been added to this list because they do not sell Kobo ereaders. I called one and confirmed the error (now that was a confused bookseller). What’s even worse is that Kobo’s search results are missing several booksellers which the ABA says are selling Kobo’s ereaders (here).

Here’s an example of the error. Note that the 3rd name on the list does not sell Kobo ereaders; I called and asked.

So what we have here is a search page which is going to send potential customers to the wrong location while neglecting to show all the valid data. Isn’t that just a great way to kick off a new sales push and show how much Kobo values their indie partners?

Why doesn’t Kobo just switch to using Apple Maps to direct customers to the indie  booksellers? I don’t see how that could do any worse.

If you’ve been reading this blog for the past few months then you probably know that I’ve devoted some time to bashing Kobo. Starting with the screwed up mess that was the Kobo Touch launch in Japan and continuing on to the price-gouging, the user license issue, the bungled US launch of the Kobo Glo, and the general craziness involving Kobo not selling their own hardware on their own website, I’ve chronicled misstep after misstep.

I’ve written so many posts on this that I’d bet that some readers think I have it in for Kobo. Well, they’re right, just not for the reason you think. I dislike Kobo because they like to talk big but they keep screwing up. Today is just one more example.

It boggles my mind that I am the only one who is reporting on this stuff, but at least I can reassure myself with the thought that when Kobo finally drives itself out of business, everyone looks for an explanation will end up here.

image by nigejones

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Mike Cane November 21, 2012 um 8:52 pm

>>>It boggles my mind that I am the only one who is reporting on this stuff

Well because I hardly do this anymore. Do you know how goddammmed repetitive it gets to write about sheer stupidity and blithe incompetence? And *nothing* ever effing *changes*, either! I’d rather do posts about Forbrydelsen III, Doctor Who, and Sherlock, FFS, in between the occasional tech fondle.

DavidW November 21, 2012 um 9:11 pm

I went to the local indie store on the list you posted earlier today or yesterday. Turned out that all of their kobos arrived broken and they had been waiting for weeks for the replacements. I wonder how long kobo can remain in business when they don’t seem to be interested in selling their readers.

Nate Hoffelder November 21, 2012 um 9:37 pm

One catastrophe at a time.

Isles November 21, 2012 um 10:44 pm

I think your reporting has been quite fair on this subject. You’ve heard my experience as a Kobo customer. Waiting around for almost two months for a product to be released, then finding absolutely no information on their website as to where I can buy it. This stuff isn’t that hard. It’s as easy as posting a web banner, adding a link, or sending out an email. Whoever is running their website/customer services should be held accountable for the massive loss in sales they will most likely incur over the holiday season.

Puzzled November 22, 2012 um 4:13 am

"Kobo bungles" is a tautology.

Isles November 22, 2012 um 10:13 am

I wonder if Nate will take Thanksgiving off? No posts yet today.

Roy Chalmers November 22, 2012 um 10:23 am

Have you tried searching for Sugar Cubes on Google Maps? Once you find a location, you can get some for your high horse. Given the ads, paying you revenue from Amazon on your page, it’s pretty clear that you’re motivated to find the errors that Kobo makes. How about B&N charging for their free books? How about Amazon only focusing on the US, and charging a sur-charge to their customers in markets where they don’t have a local site. Your myopic view is laughable at best.

I sure hope you don’t have kids…

"Hey Dad – I got 94% on my test!"

"Uh, what happened to the other 6%?"

Enjoy the glass-half-empty life…

Nate Hoffelder November 22, 2012 um 10:31 am

"How about Amazon only focusing on the US, and charging a sur-charge to their customers in markets where they don’t have a local site."

I already bashed Amazon for that as well as for failing to explain why they only tacked on the surcharge in some countries.

If there are other reasons to bash Amazon, please point them out. I’d be happy to hit them over the head again.

Mike Cane November 22, 2012 um 12:37 pm

*snort* If I ever suspected Nate of playing favorites or shading the truth to curry favor, I’d be the first one blasting him. He’s done things I won’t do: Like a post on breaking DRM.

Patrick November 22, 2012 um 9:48 pm

I kind of agree. Seems like most of the problems stem from Kobo not supplying the states with enough of their devices. Imagine being in Canada where I’ve yet to see a Kindle Paperwhite. On Amazon’s website you still can’t even purchase one for Canada. At least you can find a Kobo Glo in the States.

Nate Hoffelder November 23, 2012 um 8:03 pm

No, the problem stems from the fact that Kobo is a dysfunctional company.

For example, they fixed the map issue and now the indie stores closest to me are in San Francisco and Ponca City, OK. These stores are only about 25 miles away from me.

Patrick November 24, 2012 um 6:33 pm

again, at least you have the option of being able to buy one. I can’t even get a nook or kindle paperwhite via the internet.

Nate Hoffelder November 24, 2012 um 8:18 pm

No one can buy a Kindle PW except thoe fortunate enough to live near a store which has them, You’re not alone in this.

Nate Hoffelder November 25, 2012 um 10:17 am

BTW, your comparison is false; the causes are not the same.

On the one hand you have a company which bungled the distribution of a new device and on the other you have B&N, which doesn’t want to sell the Nook outside the US and Amazon, which can’t make enough of the KPW.

Patrick November 22, 2012 um 9:27 pm

Again, I guess, the issues tend to be in the states. I’m in Canada and have seen the kobo mini and glo at almost every electronic store I’ve been to, including Chapters.

If they want to be an 'international' player, they need to ramp up their production and start playing like they are.

I always read about the people who got broken Kobo’s or whatnot and I feel bad because I bought the first Kobo, no prob, didn’t buy the wi fi one, as I’d just bought the original, then I bought the Touch, no problem, then I bought the Glo, no problem, and I even just got the Arc, no problem, loving it actually, and all have worked great and my only problem with their cust. service was once when I bought a book and it wasn’t the book as advertised and by the time they answered my email I had forgotten I had sent it.

Xhara November 23, 2012 um 3:41 am

I really can’t fathom how Kobo keeps in business. Firstly at the german kobo pages there is no cart, you have to pay for each book separately including payment info etc. Annoying, really. So if I want to buy more than one book at a time I don’t even try kobo anymore. And then I purchased a (single) book there just yesterday only to encounter a Adobe DRM error which is located at kobos side of the deal according to the Adobe board. … gnah … If it wasn’t for these kobo coupons I wouldn’t buy there at all.

pnph44 November 23, 2012 um 2:20 pm

The main thing keeping Kobo in business is the fact that their main competitors – Amazon an Nook – lack a strong Canadian presence. The Kindle Fire and the Nook Tablet are not available here, and it is the only reason why the Kobo Vox – an inferior product – still managed to do fairly well in Canada.

Nate Hoffelder November 23, 2012 um 9:00 pm

No offense to Canadians, but Canada isn’t much of a market. It only has the population of California, and if that’s the market that Kobo plans to rely on then they’ll never be more than a 4th rate ebookstore.

Mike Cane November 24, 2012 um 10:41 am

Even being 4th rate can bring in profits.

Nate Hoffelder November 24, 2012 um 10:43 am

Not enough to justify the capital investment in new hardware, I don’t think.

pnph44 November 24, 2012 um 1:12 pm

Even if that was sufficient to keep them afloat (which I doubt is realistic long term), my main issue with Kobo, as a Canadian consumer, is that they are not competing on quality, they are merely competing on service by targeting markets where the main players in the space are not entrenched (yet). This develops a tolerance towards mediocrity that I find very frustrating at times. I remember when the Vox was released and was panned in the reviews (and rightly so), several Canadian consumers commented that the reviews were unfair. The argument was that that the Vox was an e-reader and not a tablet, and shouldn’t be compared to the Kindle Fire or the Nook Tablet. Of course the irony there was that the Vox was advertised as a tablet, and positionned against the Fire and Nook, by Kobo themselves.

Nate Hoffelder November 23, 2012 um 8:01 pm

Few ebookstore websites have carts. I don’t like it either, but this shortcoming is not unique to Kobo.

patrick November 26, 2012 um 9:50 am

Lol. Says the guy pimping Amazon on this cyber Monday. Look I’m not saying Kobo hasn’t bungled their launch. Even in Canada , if you were in a smaller city it was more if a slow roll out than a release day. But I will say not producing enough of a product and not releasing your product in the other countries where you provide service to is just, if not more, as much of a bungle.

Because if you’re saying that finding a kpw is just as rare as finding a kobo glo then I’d say the analogy stands.

Nate Hoffelder November 26, 2012 um 10:21 am

As much as you might criticize me for pimping Amazon, I have to make money somehow. Amazon makes it easy and since everyone already shops there…

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