Kobo is no longer marketing the Kobo Forma, their previous flagship e-reader. Their Amazon page does not list the model on their Homepage anymore. The product is still listed on Amazon, but there is only limited quantities available and they only have the 8GB model available. When you visit the main Kobo website, and select Apps & E-Readers and the Forma is no longer showing up. It is not until you click on ALL E-Readers do you see the Forma there, but they only have the 8GB model, the 32GB hasn’t been available for months. In Canada, this model is actually on sale for $259, which is $40 off the regular price, the USA is also running the same $40 discount too.
The Forma is no longer relevant and I believe it is going to be discontinued once the remaining stock has been sold out. This e-reader came out in 2018 and the main selling points was the giant 8 inch display, was light due to the Mobius E INK display panel and there was a 32GB variant, to house a big collection of books. At the time, this was the only Kobo model that had Dropbox support, which was useful for people who had a large collection of digital content housed in the cloud.
In 2021, Kobo unveiled the Elipsa, and Sage. These two models basically supplanted the Forma as the two premium e-readers and also have Kobo Stylus functionality to draw, take notes or make annotations in books. The Kobo Sage has the same 8 inch screen as the Forma, except this model is so much better. It is employing E INK Carta 1200, this new screen tech delivers a 20% increase in response time over E Ink Carta 1000, and an improvement in the contrast ratio of 15%. In addition, faster response time enables smoother handwriting and animations displays. It also has a quadcore processor, whereas the Forma had a single core. You also get more RAM and 32GB of storage, without paying a premium price. The Kobo Elipsa has a giant 10.3 inch screen with the same E INK 1200 display panel, processor and storage as the Sage, however it has 1GB of RAM.
As you can see, the Forma is utterly dwarfed by the Sage and Elipsa. There is nothing compelling about buying the Forma right now, it is irrelevant. This is primarily attributed to the outdated specs, but it also is incompatible with Kobo Audiobooks, since it doesn’t have Bluetooth. From a marketing perspective, they are not advertising it anymore, nor drawing attention to its existence in any of their press releases or sales charts. You have to go out of your way to even find a listing for it. Kobo relies heavily on distribution partners to drive sales and advertise their products. The Kobo Forma is not even listed on Chapters Indigo anymore, the largest bookstore in Canada. Walmart is their official partner in the United States and they no longer list any Forma readers or accessories. FNAC, their primary distributor in France, also has the Forma listed, but has been sold out for months. Booktopia, their official partner in Australia, also has zero listings for the Forma, and ditto with accessories.
The Kobo Forma is in the same position as the Amazon Kindle Oasis. The Oasis used to be the flagship model with the best specs and the largest screens, but the new Paperwhites have basically replaced this model, with a E INK 1200 display panel, better hardware specs and even USB-C. The Signature Edition is a new SKU, and it has the same specs, as the base Paperwhite, but also has 32GB of storage, instead of 8GB, quick charging and an ambient light sensor.
Will Kobo release a new version of the Forma in 2022? I believe not. They have too many e-readers in their current portfolio. I can see no value in making another, this was a one and done model. They will likely refresh the Clara HD at some point this year, and it will have Bluetooth support and audiobooks.
Michael Kozlowski has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past twelve 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. He Lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.