It took me a few years to decide that I might be well-served by putting some of my books on sale in a bookstore outside of the U.S. (presently Amazon and Barnes & Noble sell all of my available books). Eventually, I came to feel Kobo Books, an outfit in Canada, would be a good place to expand my reach, and I went to their site with a book that had recently undergone a new cover and text revision, As the Mirror Cracks. I went through the ebook publishing process (a free service)… and things only went downhill from there.
To begin with, I expected my book to be available for sale 2-3 days after publishing, about the same as at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. In fact, it took six days before my book was ready for sale. Now, it’s true that Kobo, based in Toronto, has recently gone through a severe winter blast, and has been struggling through ice, snow and frigid winds for the past… well, month… but unless publishing requires an employee to physically show up at the office and read my book before pressing a big, blue button on a mainframe, I’m not sure why it would take so long to get my book up.
(Actually, Kobo recently went through a hiccup regarding adult books, resulting in their taking down all self-published books, presumably in order to physically check each one before making them available. I dunno, maybe they did read my book before okaying it. Hope they enjoyed it.)
Once it was up, I decided to try a few simple searches to find it. Not surprisingly, if you know the title or my name, you can type that into a search window and find me pretty easily. But if you decide to scroll-browse through the science fiction section to find it… you needn’t bother.
I tried it a number of ways: Random scroll-browse, alphabetically A-Z, and by date, newest to oldest. Random, as expected, gives you a massive list of books that someone paid Kobo to put at the top of a ridiculously long scroll; and I kid you not, before I ever reached my book, the browser crashed due to overstuffing the cache and repeatedly running scripts to add books to the page. Major fail.
So I tried alphabetically, figuring that a title like As the Mirror Cracks wouldn’t take that long to come up. (I’m so silly.) The first thing to come up in the alphabetical listing was… Star Trek. And not just one, but about 70 books, very few of which had titles that even started with A. These were followed by more books that a publisher had obviously paid Kobo to put at the top of the alphabetical list, whether they were alphabetical or not. Multiple scrolls and add book scripts eventually brought me to a list of books whose titles started with numbers… aha: the real alphabet list (so to speak). More add book scripts and scrolls finally brought me to the “A”s… and lemme tell ya, there are a LOT of SF and fantasy books whose titles start with A. For some reason.
Before I even made it to the part where the “A”s are followed by another letter (such as, I dunno, As)… the browser crashed again.
Finally, I did a newest to oldest search. Again, no surprise to discover that publishers had paid to have their books thrust to the top of this list. Including, but not limited to, those 70 or so Star Trek books. But even after those paid placement books, I click-scrolled past hordes of amateur books, books with $3 price tags and hideous covers, books that no one would pay to place—and which I had seen on the site before I’d published my book—appearing on the newest-to-oldest list well before mine.
This time, the browser didn’t crash. But after what had to have been close to 1000 books scrolled through, oldest to newest, without finding my book published a day ago… my patience crashed. I gave up looking for my own book… and I knew what to look for.
In short, putting a book into Kobo is easy. Finding it is an exercise in frustration. Finding it randomly is a sheer impossibility, thanks to their totally bogus search system.
And you know what? Life’s too short. After that pathetic experience, I can’t see the point in listing the book, and I sure don’t want to bother putting any of my other books in there. Sorry, non-U.S. world… but after all, it’s not like they’d ever be found by anyone. I’ve already de-listed As the Mirror Cracks… a process that, at this point, I expect to take a week before it’s done.