Bought a PDF From Kobo? It’s Going Away After 1 November

From The Digital Reader:

Have you visited your “My Books” page on the Kobo website lately? Me neither, but someone on Mobileread has noticed that Kobo has added a notice to that page telling users that PDFs are going away.

Here’s the notice:

Beginning November 1st, Kobo will no longer make your eBooks in PDF format available for download.

We’ll do our best to replace your PDF books with their equivalent EPUBs, but it is possible that some cannot be replaced.

We’ll let you know by email which books we can’t replace. You’ll need to download these books before November 1st to continue enjoying them.

I don’t know about you, but I sure as hell didn’t know about this change until I heard on Mobileread. Kobo did not send me an email with the news, and I didn’t want anyone to find out the hard way.

Link to the rest at The Digital Reader

PG suspects this is a decision that was inspired by PDF files consuming lots of disk space and not being accessed very frequently. Save disk space, reduce hosting fees.

PG also suspects that this is a bad long-term business decision by Kobo because it will cause Kobo customers to have less confidence that their ebooks are safe with the company.

Storing things in the cloud is a great idea so long as the cloud provides reliable storage. With most big cloud providers, this is a safe bet because major players (Amazon is the biggest) actively manage file backups, duplicates at multiple locations, etc. For 99% of home/home office computer users, copies of documents in the cloud are probably much safter than they are when stored on a local hard drive. (The other 1% should remember to take their OCD medications.)

However, if the entity storing its customers’ files in the cloud wants to save money, inherent cloud safety goes out the window. At least some customers are now wondering if Kobo is having financial problems and whether their ebooks are safe with Kobo.

37 thoughts on “Bought a PDF From Kobo? It’s Going Away After 1 November”

  1. Yet another excellent reason to pirate rather than obtain books legally.
    I really do want to support my favourite authors but when content providers play games like this, I don’t really know what I’m supposed to do.

    • Only buy non-digital restricted media, things you are able to backup/side-load yourself.

      The cloud is great and everyone loves it – right up until it dries up and blows away and people discover in the now blindingly bright sunlight that nothing in the cloud was ever really theirs in the first place …

    • I don’t really know what I’m supposed to do.

      If a consumer doesn’t like a vendor, he is free to stop doing business with that vendor.

      A consumer is not supposed to do business with the vendor, nor is he supposed to refrain from doing business. It’s a free choice.

    • Pdf support on eink readers has always been problematic.
      The ratio of support costs to pdf sales is probably much higher than for epub or kepub.

      Support costs are killers.

      Back in the early days of LINUX DELL tried selling Linux desktops. The cost of support ended that experiment pretty quickly since with Windows PCs the brunt of OS support fell on Microsoft. It turned out the $40 license was a good dead for Dell.

    • You could be right, Nate, but if that is the case, Kobo could have explained the reason and most of their customers would have understood.

      The lack of explanation is, for me, an elementary customer relations mistake.

        • These are the same people who went out of their way to try to derail a meaningless, less-than-wristslap settlement over the agency conspiracy, proclaiming to everybody that are incapable of competing on a level playing. After a whole bunch of billable hours wasted in oegal proceedings they got an even less meaningful three month settlement and *still* they whined.

          Tin-eared is an understatement with those guys.

  2. And this is why I buy my ebooks from Amazon. I suspect they’ll still be around 20 years from now, when I’ll probably be dead and won’t need my books.

    My first ebooks were from Fictionwise. That closed. Then Sony’s ebookstore as I had a Sony reader. That’s gone. Then B&N via Nook. That was annoying and probably gonna go away.

    I do have some Kobo books. But I haven’t visited in a long time. I don’t see myself buying more books from them. I figure it’ll be like Fictionwise, Sony’s Reader store, and where the Nook is headed.

    PG is right. This doesn’t breed confidence in Kobo’s practices being reader-customer-focused.

      • What if you don’t have a PC?

        One of the biggest selling point of Kindles from day one is that they are standalone devices. For three years they were alone in that category while all other readers were PC peripherals. For five it was just them and Nook.

        By the time the generic ADEPT ecosystem caught up to that one feature Kindle was top dog by a mile.

        To this day, the single biggest source of support issues on the generic epub side is ADE issues.

        • My ’97 Dodge van came with a spare tire. Haven’t needed it yet (as old as that tire is it’s dry-rotted) but I carry it around ‘just in case’.

          No need to side-load – so long as nothing ever happens to your Amazon account and so long as they remember and still stock the ebooks you’ve bought – oops, sorry, ‘leased’ as you paid for but don’t actually own them.

          And if a writer (or their estate) tells Amazon to stop offering their books, those ebooks can disappear from your collection (I remember 1984 and animal something being pulled from their kindles after people had paid for it. No, they might not take it away from you, but it might not be there when you move on to your next Amazon ereader.)

          And if you don’t have/need a PC/Mac, one of those $35 Raspberry Pis will do just fine in moving/saving a few files. (And if you write – what are you writing on that won’t save/transfer files?)

          If you’re happy and are sure that if something happens you will lose nothing of value, then you can ignore all this. To those that do think they might lose something of value they now need to decide just how much (if any) extra protection is needed.

          • the ebooks you’ve bought – oops, sorry, ‘leased’ as you paid for but don’t actually own them.

            You actually did not buy them and you do not own them. You paid for a lease. You knew that, right?

            • Yup, ‘I’ know that.

              Just wondering when Amazon and the like will change that ‘Buy’ button for the more correct ‘License’ one. Couldn’t possibly be because their sales – I mean licensing – might drop …

              As I said above, if what you’ve licensed from these companies doesn’t matter to you, then you have nothing to worry about. Those of us that still want our licensed goods after the companies fold or close our accounts will seek methods of protecting what we paid for in good faith.

              • I know what I license and I know how to manage it.
                And I never have bought an ebook I couldn’t backup.
                I don’t expect Amazon or BAEN to fold but in the unlikely event they do, I’m covered.

                I never said I don’t sideload.

                • I don’t normally sideload – I prefer to email non Amazon documents to my Kindles – though I did once recently where the KFX file screwed up the formatting of dropped caps but azw3 worked fine. However, for KFX files I do the first stage and download them to my PC to get an azw3 version from which I can strip the DRM. I say to hell with this idea that I’m licensing the book, I pressed a buy button and am going to be sure that I’ve got a file safe from DRM and that can be converted to alternative formats if necessary.

                • Before the Kindle, Amazon sold eBooks. When Amazon decided to stop selling eBooks, everyone who bought eBooks via Amazon lost access to them. So even Amazon has been known to screw over customers eBooks.

              • Couldn’t possibly be because their sales – I mean licensing – might drop …

                Of course it is. People don’t understand what the License button would mean. A buy button is much simpler.

                Nobody cares except activists, and they have been forecasting consumer revolt over one thing or another for the last ten years. (The revolt over DRM is about five years late, and KU is scheduled for consumer rejection any day now due to scammers.)

    • It’s worth noting that I lost an entire (modest-sized) library of eBooks purchased from Amazon back when they terminated their *first* entry in the eBook market. That was years before the Kindle. When they exited that business, they turned off the DRM servers. Library went “poof!”

      I don’t seriously expect Amazon to leave the ebook market now — they’re doing too well with the Kindle. I merely mention this to point out that even corporate giants do unexpected things from time to time.

      • I guess because I haven’t lost anything with them, I’ve gotten complacent. 🙂 And maybe because I have always had stellar customer service since 1997, I figure if they mess up, they will try to fix it. And their “cloud” be really big. I don’t think storing my stuff is a problem for them.

        • Not a problem until the cloud goes away, and then you’re out of luck. But, your choice if you don’t want to do any offsite backups of your content.

          • I don’t. Which is why I pick the provider that I trust most for my purchases. I don’t want it on my hard drive and then have to do back-ups. Pain in the keister.

  3. Most of my paper books ended up with Goodwill. I can’t get very excited about it.

    But, I’d fire someone for being so incompetent in the roll out. Lots of paying consumers get very excited about it.

  4. If I wind on my tinfoil had tightly enough, I think this is a preparatory move Kobo is making to ditch Adobe software entirely.

    I noticed last year that there exists a disclaimer in their Writing Life agreement that Adobe DRM Epub downloads could be discontinued at any time… heck, I took the wording to be practically a declaration that they intend to do so. With the Decline of B&N, and the Google Play Books being a non-starter, Kobo is the last remaining purveyor of books keeping the Adobe DRM scheme afloat, and they charge a significant rent for the privilege.

    Now that Kobo owns Overdrive, and have their own app available on all platforms Adobe supports, it would make perfect and complete sense to ditch the Adobe software entirely.. I’m actually amazed they haven’t done so already.

    • ” I’m actually amazed they haven’t done so already.”

      It’s probably a combination of not having replacement tech ready yet and waiting for a decline in the use of Adobe DE downloads.

    • They do have a path to Adobe independence through the proprietary DRM they use on their Kepubs but, while ADEPT is mostly irrelevant in the US, it is still relevant in the many small markets where Kobo is strongest. They’d be cutting off users of generic Adept ereaders.

      A more likely driver is the switch to Epub3.

      KOBO is the only major ebookstore swearing they’ll support *all* of Epub3 which, if they pull it off, would let them do print replica editions without pdf. And, the switchover would be the perfect time to ditch Adobe. I vaguely remember that the “Epub3” titles they currently support are delivered as Kepubs…

      • Kobo already had fixed layout years ago (201, 2012) – they had their own, and there’s an Epub2 FXL standard as well.

        And Adobe does more than just DRM – they also license Content Server (this supplies the DRM on the ebooks). That CMS is probably what Kobo would like to replace but can’t, yet.

  5. storage is cheap, even at scale (unless you are stupid about it, and you can waste money on anything)

    so saving storage space doesn’t justify this.

    • You know, I remember the “storage is cheap” mantra from back in the 90s. Often it was someone from IBM chanting it. But when the machine I was responsible for kept running out of it and I brought a proposal for more disks to the CEO, he didn’t think it was so cheap. Those at the top often ask for an alternative solution to the problem, one that doesn’t involve spending money.

      • Hooked up to my computer right now is a 128 GB USB key that can be picked up for under $50. Typical size of an Amazon ebook novel, average size 225 pages, is 1.87 MB, meaning the one key will hold roughly 68,500 ebooks.

        Storage is cheap.

Comments are closed.