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Old 10-29-2010, 04:17 PM   #1
Khendron
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Very unimpressed by Kobo software and by customer support

Last night I sent the email below to help@kobobooks.com, and got the following reply

"Please accept this confirmation email that your comments have been received. We apologize for any inconvenience you may have experienced...Your request has been solved."

Solved? Exactly how has my request been solved? I got no explanations as to what might be causing the problems I am seeing, or any suggestions as to how I might fix them.

------------
My email to help@kobobooks.com:
Twice now I've bought a book through the Kobo eBookstore and been left very unimpressed.

A couple of weeks ago I attempted to buy "Bellwether" by Connie Willis. I first tried buying it through the Kobo for Mac app, but it repeatedly told me that the purchase could not be completed. So I went to kobobooks.com and purchased it, successfully. I then went back to the Kobo app and clicked Update Library, as instructed. The book was downloaded to the Kobo app, but the book downloaded was empty. When I opened in the Kobo app, every chapter was like "Chapter 1", a black line, then "End of Chapter". I was forced to download the ePub using Adobe Digital Editions and copy it to my Kobo manually.

I found that the quality of e-version of Bellwether was very poor. There were scanning errors on many pages, with words like "luck" being replaced with "lack". My favourite was when the word "click" was replaced with "dick". The numerous errors took a lot of the enjoyment out of reading the book.

Just now I purchased "All Clear", also by Connie Willis. Again the Kobo app purchased failed, so I had to buy through kobobooks.com. Doing the Update Library with the Kobo app failed also, this time the book gave me an encryption error. I again had to download the ePub via Digital Editions. I hope that the quality is better than the last book.

I am reaching the point where I just might throw my Kobo out as mostly useless and buy a Kindle. I have friends with Kindles and they never have problems like the ones I've had, and I've only bought 2 books and they have bought dozens. As a device, the Kobo is OK, but the quality of the Kobo bookstore and software is astonishingly poor.
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Old 10-29-2010, 04:27 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Khendron View Post
Last night I sent the email below to help@kobobooks.com, and got the following reply

"Please accept this confirmation email that your comments have been received. We apologize for any inconvenience you may have experienced...Your request has been solved."

Solved? Exactly how has my request been solved? I got no explanations as to what might be causing the problems I am seeing, or any suggestions as to how I might fix them.

------------
My email to help@kobobooks.com:
Twice now I've bought a book through the Kobo eBookstore and been left very unimpressed.....
You can probably thank the publisher for poor formatting for the spelling mistakes and quite possibly the problems downloading as well. I bought a book from Books On Board that was plagued with problems. So I bought it again from Kobo but it had the exact same problems. There needs to be a higher standard set for ebook formatting.
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Old 10-29-2010, 04:34 PM   #3
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Isn't there a return policy for this sort of situation? There should be a guarantee that books bought from the Kobo bookstore will be in ready and readable condition. While the publishers are responsible for initial content quality it is Kobo's responsibility to make sure that customers are satisfied with all purchases.
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Old 10-29-2010, 04:37 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Duiker View Post
So I bought it again from Kobo but it had the exact same problems. There needs to be a higher standard set for ebook formatting.
Yep, I bought The Strain too and had the same ridiculous problems.
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Old 10-29-2010, 05:44 PM   #5
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If you find the quality of a book is poor, our customer service will refund your purchase.

Khendron, please PM me your ticket # and I will follow up with our customer service team on your issue.
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Old 10-30-2010, 10:54 AM   #6
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If you find the quality of a book is poor, our customer service will refund your purchase.

Khendron, please PM me your ticket # and I will follow up with our customer service team on your issue.
Excellent. Thanks for letting us know JC.
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Old 11-02-2010, 04:01 AM   #7
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Have to agree with Khendron. I tried to follow up an issue with Kobo help and the replies I received were nonsense. I'm not sure they were even written by a human being. They did not address the issues I was raising (about the total inadequacy of the desktop app).
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Old 11-02-2010, 07:53 AM   #8
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I posted a question on Kobo's "forums" and got a response with 30 minutes. Likely front line support for Kobo is based abroad (typically in India) so I sometimes wonder if they don't always have access to the correct answers needed for all situations.
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Old 11-02-2010, 10:19 AM   #9
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After sending a PM to JCKobo, I received the following from Kobo Customer Care
"We apologize for the fact that the quality of 'Bellwether' was less than satisfactory. We will be happy to provide you with a refund for the book since the numerous typos distracted you from enjoying the book (no matter how funny those typos may have been). While Kobo strives to make sure each ebook is a high quality product, we do depend on the publisher of the ebook to check it for spelling mistakes and such. We will inform the publisher, Random House, that they have provided us with a poor quality book and ask them to resubmit a more rigorously edited file. However, there is no way to guarantee how long this process may take which is why we will provide you with a refund shortly.

As for the desktop app malfunctioning, our development team is aware of the problem and we will be implementing an update for the desktop app later this week. For now, your best option is to continue to use ADE."
Cool! It's nice to have my concerns addressed (thanks JCKobo). Maybe next time I won't have to turn to a public forum to get this to happen.

Looking forward to the next update.
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Old 11-02-2010, 12:26 PM   #10
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As a publisher, I find it frustrating that other publishers aren't sending clean files out to Kobo, Kindle, etc. I've read countless ebooks that are rife with errors -- and I have to say, it seems to be a bigger problem with books from large multinationals than independents.

I've got a pretty good idea why it's happening. It's far easier to convert pre-designed Word files to EPUB -- you end up with fewer headaches to clean up. The problem is that a number of corrections are made to books AFTER this stage -- some even occurring while the book is at the printer. The further you get in the publishing process, the less likely you are to be using software that converts easily to EPUB.

So, these publishers are undoubtedly using Word files. These files will have been copyedited, but as anyone in publishing knows, even copyedited manuscripts contain errors -- sometimes many errors. That's why books are proofread after they're designed.

Basically, a lot of the ebooks you're reading have been copyedited, but not proofread.

So, why do these publishers send earlier files? Because the cleanup of later files in EPUB is very labour-intensive. It's far more time- and cost-consuming than a standard book proofread.

The editorial standards for ebooks should be just as high as they are for print books. I make sure our ebooks are from late-version files (the final PDFs that the printer uses), and get a proper proofread of their own before going to Kobo or Kindle. I find it shameful that some publishers are not doing so, particularly when it's the large multinationals who have the money to spend.

Last edited by Mememememe; 11-02-2010 at 12:29 PM.
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Old 11-02-2010, 12:35 PM   #11
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Despite the post I just made, I should add that this response from Kobo:

"We will inform the publisher, Random House, that they have provided us with a poor quality book and ask them to resubmit a more rigorously edited file."


... is improper and unprofessional. You don't chastise your supplier to a customer. It's fine to say that the problem originated with the supplier, but you don't use this language to do so. Not that I have too much sympathy for Random House, of course. (See prior post.)
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Old 11-02-2010, 07:50 PM   #12
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Quote:
Basically, a lot of the ebooks you're reading have been copyedited, but not proofread.
Send them all to me ~ I'll very happily proof read each & every one!
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Old 11-02-2010, 11:20 PM   #13
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So, these publishers are undoubtedly using Word files. These files will have been copyedited, but as anyone in publishing knows, even copyedited manuscripts contain errors -- sometimes many errors. That's why books are proofread after they're designed.
I think for the specific book I was complaining about ("Bellwether" by Connie Willis), the book was optically scanned and then converted using OCR. I can think of no other way the word "click" could become the word "dick". All the other errors I spotted were of the "geometrically similar" variety.
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Old 11-02-2010, 11:35 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mememememe View Post
Despite the post I just made, I should add that this response from Kobo:

"We will inform the publisher, Random House, that they have provided us with a poor quality book and ask them to resubmit a more rigorously edited file."


... is improper and unprofessional. You don't chastise your supplier to a customer. It's fine to say that the problem originated with the supplier, but you don't use this language to do so. Not that I have too much sympathy for Random House, of course. (See prior post.)
Bullpucky. It's a partnership. As a customer I want to know BOTH are addressing the issue. If Wal-Mart sold contaminated hamburger, I'd fully expect them to beat up quite publicly on the supplier.
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Old 11-03-2010, 06:08 AM   #15
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I'm hoping that most of us know that when a book is horribly formatted, contains spelling errors, and the other messy things we sometimes see that it is actually the Publisher that can make these changes, not Kobo. There are oddities with ePUB and kDRM formatted books, but they seem fairly consistent regardless of the book one is reading. If someone (and Kobo is a bigger someone than any of us) doesn't contact the publisher, nothing will change.

As for telling us that they have done so--well, who would be satisfied with a generic remark like "we're looking into it"?
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