This Rakuten Kobo review is a source of minute data about the audiobook and ebook provider known around the globe. We’ll discuss its features, content, pricing, customer support, and much more based on our own experience.
You’ll also learn the specifics of Kobo’s most prominent properties and how they can be useful to you. Then, you’ll see how it compares to its competitors. Last but not least, you can take a look at the answers we gave to the frequently asked questions.
So, if you’re still interested in Rakuten Kobo, keep scrolling for more details.
Pros & Cons
*30 days free trial
Rakuten Kobo Review — Features and Materials
Rakuten Group Inc. is based in Tokyo, Japan, and has affiliates and subsidiaries known as the Rakuten Group. It offers services in e-commerce, fintech, digital content, and communications worldwide. Moreover, Rakuten Kobo Inc. is a part of this group.
Kobo is a digital reading platform featuring ebooks, audiobooks, and podcasts. It’s accessible in browsers, on portable iOS and Android devices, and as a desktop app. There are slight differences among these that you’ll find about soon.
Kobo also sells Kobo eReaders. However, you can’t use a Kobo e-Reader to listen to audiobooks. In short, you can buy ebooks and audiobooks from kobo.com, a Kobo eReader, or by using the Kobo Books app on your Android smartphone or tablet.
You’ll find Kobo’s free podcasts in the blog. There are tons of them, and you can listen to interviews with many renowned writers talking about their works of art. In addition, the possibility of publishing your book with Kobo Writing Life is a remarkable feature.
We should also mention that not all Kobo audiobooks and ebooks demand a Kobo account and subscriptions. Furthermore, you can pre-order them before they become available, which ensures you a pre-order price guarantee.
The company operates globally, but the offers and content aren’t the same in every country. Yet, you can find ebooks and audio files in multiple languages. Moreover, it’s possible to translate the interface into 13 languages.
Now that you know what Rakuten Kobo is and how it works, it’s time to deal with the specifics. We’ve already mentioned that Kobo.com and the apps have different features. So let’s see what those are.
Kobo Website Review
Rakuten Kobo has different websites for each available region. However, it also has a website for the rest of the world. It’s in English by default, but you can translate the interface to Norwegian, Danish, German, Spanish, French, Italian, Dutch, Portuguese, Finnish, Swedish, Turkish, Japanese, and Chinese.
You should know that you can’t purchase items on Kobo from Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Syria, and the Crimea region. In general, the Kobo website has some features you won’t find in the apps or Kobo eReaders.
For example, you can cancel your Kobo audiobooks subscription on the website only. Then, you can purchase an ebook or audiobook in the Kobo store and read it in your app or eReader. However, you can’t listen to an audiobook on the website.
What’s more, you can download and export most items purchased on the website and read them on a device other than Kobo. All in all, using the web-based Kobo version is unavoidable. However, we can enjoy reading and listening to books on the go in one of the apps for smartphones, tablets, and desktop computers.
Kobo App Review
As a rule, reading ebooks is possible on the desktop app and the app for iOS and Android devices. Furthermore, the desktop app works on PCs and Macs. It’s completely free, and it lets you buy books as well.
The desktop version also lets you manage books on your Kobo eReader. You can download it at kobosetup.com. However, we must emphasize that it’s not compatible with Linux OS, Windows XP, or Windows Vista.
When it comes to Mac users, the minimum requirement is OSX 10.9 or later.
According to many Kobo app reviews and our findings, Kobo provides a seamless reading experience. You can start reading a book on the desktop and pick it up right where you left off on a mobile reading app or an eReader.
Moreover, you can adjust the text size, style, margins, alignment, line spacing, themes, and page layout. The app for iOS and Android smartphones and tablets contains both ebooks and audiobooks. Moreover, you can easily switch between the two libraries.
Android users are at an advantage because they can buy audiobooks within the app. We can confirm the claims of Kobo reviews that iOS users need to go to kobo.com using Safari, buy an audio file, and then go back to the app. The good news is that the purchases will appear in the app upon syncing.
You can find the app on kobo.com/apps. It’s compatible with Android 6 and iOS 12 and above. Moreover, listening to audiobooks on this app is pretty rewarding. For example, the player allows you to rewind files for 10 seconds. It also shows you how much time is left in the book. In fact, you can choose from over five million titles.
Kobo Audiobooks Review
The search bar helps you find a book by title, author, series, or ISBN. However, if you don’t know where to start, you can check some of the trending, popular, or best-of-the-month lists. Also, the recommended For you section is pretty accurate.
The more you browse and listen to specific books, the more similar content you’ll see on your homepage. If you need to do a broader search, you can filter the titles based on the category, length, format, language, and pricing. This Kobo audiobook review will tell you all you need to know about these.
To begin with, Kobo has nine major categories — biography and memoir, fiction, non-fiction, business and finance, kids, romance, fiction and literature, mystery and suspense, and science fiction and fantasy.
There are dozens of topics like sports, horror, LGBT, economics, job hunting, drama, comics, animals, saga, and many others. Since there are so many options, it’s convenient to narrow down your search by using filters.
Kobo audio files typically last from less than 5 hours to more than 30 hours. Unfortunately, many Kobo audiobook reviews don’t mention that you can listen to audiobooks in 10 languages — English, Russian, German, Danish, Spanish, Chinese, Arabic, French, Portuguese, and Polish. They all come in an MP3 or MP4 format.
Unfortunately, these audiobooks are available only in the following countries: Canada, the US, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, the Philippines, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Sweden, Taiwan, and the UK.
Although most audiobooks have an ebook equivalent, you need to buy them separately. Finally, you can download and listen to a Kobo audiobook in the Kobo Books app for iOS and Android devices and Apple CarPlay.
Ease of Use
Kobo is one of those services you’re not anxious to use. However, every button on the website is working, there are no missing pages, and the app doesn’t freeze. We haven’t had problems signing up or logging in, either.
The app is relatively easy to navigate. It has a built-in dictionary, which means you don’t have to close the app to look up a word. It also has a timer you can set to avoid battery drain.
However, a review of Kobo audiobook services wouldn’t be complete without mentioning its customer support.
Customer Support Review
You can contact Kobo’s customer service representatives via chat from anywhere in the world 24/7 for urgent issues. In fact, we received a response after three seconds. What’s more, they sent us a transcript of the entire conversation via email.
The company has Facebook and Twitter accounts as well. So, those spending a lot of time on social media can send them a message on Facebook Messenger or Twitter. Of course, you can use the phone line, too.
The findings of our test for this Rakuten Kobo review have shown that the phone number depends on your location. Unfortunately, the phone support is limited to the US and Canada (1-800-368-5390), Australia (1-800-612-739), New Zealand (0-800-466-458), Ireland (1-800-902-221), and the UK (0-800-404-9511).
Plans & Pricing
Although Rakuten Kobo is a membership-based platform, you can purchase books without a subscription. However, it’s much more affordable to get books from Kobo as a subscriber because you redeem one credit for one title. Otherwise, you need to pay the retail price for both ebooks and Kobo audiobooks.
It’s relevant to mention that ebooks and audiobooks require separate subscriptions. The ebook membership costs $9.99 per month, just like the audiobook subscription. Also, the Kobo subscriptions vary across the countries.
Kobo Plus subscription services are currently available in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Portugal, Italy, France, and the Netherlands. With Kobo Plus, you can read as many books as you want in a month for a fixed price of $9.99 on Kobo eReaders and in the app.
In addition, the company offers a Kobo free trial for 30 days. You need to provide your credit card information because Kobo will automatically charge you $9.99 after 30 days unless you cancel it before the trial expires.
Unfortunately, the Kobo Plus isn’t available in the US; only Audiobook and VIP memberships are. As a Kobo customer, you can upgrade to the VIP membership that doubles your points on every purchase for $10 per month.
You should know that subscription fees are non-refundable. In fact, if you cancel your membership, you won’t receive a refund for any fees you already paid for. The company doesn’t issue refunds for Kobo audiobook credits, either.
Apparently, few people know that Rakuten Kobo Inc. and Rakuten Group Inc. are not the same. Yet, it seems it’s one of the most frequent inquiries the customer support representatives receive. Out of 3,640 reviews users have left, 81% are incredibly positive.
First of all, they love the Kobo eReaders, especially Libra, Forma, and Clara, as their big screens make long reading sessions much more pleasant. In fact, customers describe the design as perfect. When talking about audiobooks, we’ve noticed that members feel Kobo has a vast selection of titles.
Several Kobo reviews show the users’ dissatisfaction because some audiobooks aren’t available in their countries. As a result, they’ve switched to ebooks. However, many people have started listening to audiobooks after giving Kobo a go.
They like carrying hundreds of books on one device. To them, the Kobo app is a well-organized place for storing ebooks and audiobooks at reasonable prices. What users don’t like is the limited usage of promo codes.
Due to publisher restrictions and territorial limitations, they can’t apply promo codes to all books. A customer support representative replied to these Kobo reviews and explained the problem. We haven’t detected any complaints about payment, let alone fraudulent activities.
Besides Kobo, there are many other digital book providers we’ve seen. They differ in terms of content, prices, and availability. However, they have some similarities. While it’s hard to predict what kind of experience you’ll have with a particular site, some stand out from the crowd.
After a careful analysis, we’ve decided to compare Kobo to two of its competitors — Audible and Kindle.
Kobo vs. Audible
Indeed, both companies operate globally. However, Kobo has a parent company from Tokyo, Japan, whereas Audible belongs to Amazon. Therefore, when it comes to memberships, Audible has more options than Kobo.
As a result, users get more credits as a part of the more expensive plans. Then, Amazon Prime members have benefits regular users lack, while Kobo doesn’t offer such deals. Still, Kobo has launched a series of Kobo eReaders for its ebooks. Audible, on the other hand, hasn’t done anything similar.
Kobo Audiobooks vs. Audible Audiobooks
They have millions of titles in their digital libraries — classics, new releases, and almost any topic you can imagine. Furthermore, they both have an iOS and Android app for listening to those books.
However, being a part of Amazon, Audible lets you listen to audiobooks on any Alexa-enabled device compatible with Fire tablets, Kindles, Sonos devices, and more. In addition, Kobo seems a better choice for occasional listeners. Audible, although more expensive, pays off in the long run.
Kobo vs. Kindle
We’ve come across many Kobo vs. Kindle reviews because these eReaders seem to be the leading devices on the market. They allow their users to browse and buy ebooks in the respective stores for $9.99 per month.
However, many people prefer Kobo devices to Kindles because of their longer battery life.
Pros and Cons
- Audiobooks, ebooks, and podcasts
- A free app for iOS and Android devices
- A free desktop app for reading
- Kobo eReaders
- Rakuten Viki for watching Asian TV shows and movies
- A self-publishing option with sales tracking by country or date
- Varying content across regions
- Phone customer support is available in six countries only
Rakuten Kobo Review — Final Verdict
All things considered, Rakuten Kobo has fulfilled our expectations. It’s a fantastic place for expanding your library, either by reading or listening. If you have a Kobo eReader, the experience is even better. However, it’s not obligatory.
Kobo has developed an iOS and Android app for both ebooks and audiobooks that works well. What’s more, Rakuten Kobo is among the affordable global book retailers. Since there are no long-term commitments, Kobo is ideal for a casual book whenever you feel like it.