A few weeks ago Kobo announced that it was going to bring back their five inch Mini e-reader back for a limited time. The company had a number of units that were sitting in their Canadian warehouse and decided to market them to residents of Canada and the United States. This whole situation was a bit of a fiasco because customers received demo units, instead of new e-readers. If this was not bad enough, there was also a miscommunication between the people responsible for the product listing on the website and management. The e-paper display listed was e-Ink Pearl, so people initially thought this was a new version of the Mini, instead of the older model.
One of the big problems with older e-readers, especially ones that are four years old, are the batteries. They gradually lose their ability to hold a solid charge and many customers claimed that when they took it out of the box it had a 54% charge and after a few hours it dropped to 4%.
Bringing back the Mini e-reader was a bit of a disaster for Kobo, something the company did not need this close to Black Friday and the Christmas season. Kobo issued the following statement to Good e-Reader, clarifying the entire situation; “The Kobo Mini e-Readers that were sold from November 3 to 7 in Canada and the US were devices produced for retail store demo environments. Although the e-Readers were unused and in original, sealed packaging, the description on Kobo.com should have explicitly stated that they were demo devices. This was an error and it was not Rakuten Kobo’s intention to mislead customers. As such, those who bought the Kobo Mini will automatically receive a full refund for the device and shipping costs, and are welcome to keep the device if they wish. Rakuten Kobo apologizes for this unfortunate error and is working quickly to get book lovers back to reading.”
Suffice to say, the Kobo Mini listings were quickly pulled from Kobo and for all sense and purposes the e-reader is no longer being sold. If we can learn anything from this saga is that people want an alternative to the standard six inch e-reader, which is why Kobo has found success on their product line of 6.7 inch devices. Maybe in the new year the company will develop a proper Mini 2 e-reader.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times.