If you’re on the hunt for a service that can offer as many eBooks as you can lay your eyes on, Kobo Plus is the newest kid on the block.
Paying one monthly price to consume as much content as you want is what the era of streaming content is all about, and that’s now including eBooks. Where Amazon has its Kindle Unlimited service, and Scribd its own all-you-can-eat platform, Kobo finally brought its Plus service to the other side of the Atlantic from the Netherlands and Belgium.
It’s been a strong success in those countries, and Kobo brought it to Canada in tandem with its Nia eReader in July 2020. Unlimited reading on any supported Kobo device will cost you, so is it worth signing up?
Support for the service is pretty wide-ranging. All Kobo eReaders — except for the Kobo Mini and Kobo Wi-Fi — are compatible with it. The latest firmware update should include a landing page highlighting the service and a way to browse the library and sign up.
That also includes the Kobo app available on iOS and Android, where the same access applies. Plus should work the same way as any eBook you purchase from the Kobo Store. You can pick up where you left off, bookmark pages, make annotations, etc. The only difference is that all eBooks you download from Plus are tied to the subscription, so you don’t actually own any of the titles.
It’s free to create a Kobo Plus account using your existing Kobo account. It offers the first 30 days as a free trial, and when that ends, you are on the hook to pay to continue reading. Unfortunately, it excludes Quebec residents from getting the free trial, but everyone in other provinces and territories are eligible.
After the trial ends, Plus costs $9.99/month for access to “hundreds of thousands” of titles that fall under the subscription. If you browse on the Kobo Store and see “Read with Kobo Plus,” you know you’ve found an eBook that is within the library available.
Bear in mind that, as many as there is, it’s a mere fraction of the millions the Kobo Store currently has. Many popular books and authors won’t be readily available through the service, but you can browse through what is available in the Plus section on a Kobo eReader, the Kobo app or Kobo.com. The search is more precise on the website, where you can easily filter search results to what’s available on Plus.
Much of what is available are lower-cost books that range between $0.99 to $3, though there are others that can cost as much as $30. All of those would essentially be free to download and read during a subscription. Of the overall number available, it includes eBooks in French, as well as Spanish, Italian, German, Russian, Portuguese, Polish, Dutch, and more, as a nod to the multicultural fabric of Canada.
When it comes to reading offline, Kobo will limit you to 15 eBooks on Plus over a 30-day period. When you’ve opened 15 books, or reached the end of the 30-day period of offline reading, you have to reconnect to a Wi-Fi network and sync your eReader or app.
The titles and authors may not be household names, so the mix is going to be eclectic for most. What Kobo is banking on (pun intended) is that you will read enough in a given month to justify the monthly fee. It’s worth it if you end up reading, say, two eBooks that would’ve cost double that if you were to buy them from the Kobo Store. But not so much if the titles you do read end up being less than the fee itself.
Then there’s OverDrive, which is the nice integration Kobo has with public libraries to borrow eBooks. So long as you have a library card, you can sign out an eBook digitally and return it on time. The catch is that libraries treat eBooks the same as physical ones, so if someone already has it, you can’t get a copy until it’s sent back.
Plus essentially maneuvers around that by offering a subscription model that only limits access insofar as you keep paying to keep the proverbial door open. As a subscriber, you can hang onto an eBook for as long as you want. And like with eBooks on OverDrive, if you choose to buy the book from the Kobo Store, your bookmarks and annotations are saved and applied to that purchase. Just remember that OverDrive is entirely separate from Kobo Plus.
It’s also worth noting that Plus doesn’t have exclusivity with anything. The titles available on it are also on the Kobo Store, so it’s not like you would need to subscribe to access any particular eBooks. The only difference is in how you end up paying to read them: a la carte or buffet-style.
Kobo felt the time was right to launch the service in Canada because readership and retention increased significantly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The subscription model would likely apply more to bookworms who can get through multiple titles in a 30-day span, or else it doesn’t make much sense to sign up. And, of course, that also depends on you finding what you want to read within the library available.
The FAQ section is pretty detailed in outlining the features and functions of membership. Much of it is straightforward, and you can cancel whenever you like, so your obligation only goes as far as you want to take it.