Review: Kobo Plus Read & Listen subscription service is more than just romance and mystery books


Kobo added Audiobooks to it’s Kobo Plus subscription service a few months ago.  Australian Kobo Plus subscribers can access more than 1.3 million ebooks and over 100,000 audiobooks.

You have the option of subscribing to either ebooks or audiobooks access for $13.99/month or ebooks and audiobooks bundled together for $16.99/month. There is a free 30-day trial if you want to look for your favourite authors / genres.

My first impression looking at the list of most popular ebooks and audiobooks on the Kobo Plus platform was that the service seemed to be mainly offering romance novels and murder/mystery thrillers.

To be fair those types of books are quite popular with women, who make up a large proportion of physical and ebook readers as well as audiobook listeners.

Thankfully looking at the Kobo Plus website on my laptop and on the phone app I realised that there were lots more categories: Fiction & Literature, Romance, Nonfiction, Fiction – YA, Mystery & Suspense, Kids, SF & Fantasy, Biography & Memoir, Business & Finance, Comics & Graphic Novels.

I also realised that the recommendation engine on the Kobo App was much better for Kobo Plus than the recommendations on my ereader.

As you can see in the screenshots below in the app I mostly get recommendations for sci-fi and fantasy writers including titles and authors that I like eg The Expanse and Neil Stephenson.

Digging into the search function a bit more on the Kobo Plus website I discovered lots of old classic sci-fi stories from authors I like (Robert A. Heinlein, Robert Silverberg, Larry Niven, Ray Bradbury etc).

These are not available at any local public library, as libraries tend to mainly stock print books from the last decade. Obviously due to space restrictions they can’t keep every book they’ve ever purchased.

Kobo Plus can be accessed via the free Kobo Books App for iOS or Android mobile devices and directly on these Kobo ereaders : Clara 2E, Sage, Libra 2, Elipsa and Elipsa 2E.

Having tried both ways I recommend:

  • For ebooks use your Kobo ereader eg Clara 2E, Sage, Libra 2, Elipsa and Elipsa 2E,
  • For audiobooks use the Kobo app on either your daily use smartphone or like I do on a dedicated old spare smartphone that I use just for listening to podcasts, audiobooks and streaming music,
  • For comics & graphic novels either use a large screen ereader like the Elipsa/Elipsa 2E (pictured below) or an Android/Apple tablet if what you’re looking at is drawn in colour.

The reasons for doing so are:

  • Kobo ereaders were originally made for reading ebooks and they are great at that, providing advanced eink screens that are much nicer to read on than your phone and a week or more of battery life. In comparison phones are not fun to read books on for a long time with their bright glowing narrow screens.
  • Smartphones are great at playing audio, they can do so from their built-in speakers if you’re by yourself and not interrupting anyone or via wired/bluetooth earbuds/headphones for much better audio quality and private listening. In comparison while some kobo ereaders support playing audiobooks via bluetooth, doing so uses up the battery way too fast eg: 10% an hour for Libra 2 ereader.
  • Comics and graphic novels need a big screen to be viewed properly

Overall is the Kobo Plus Read & Listen subscription service worth paying for? I’d say Yes especially if you regularly read/listen to ebooks and audiobooks while commuting on public transport, at home and on holidays.

Since the subscription cost is monthly if your budget is tight you don’t need to keep paying all the time, just subscribe during the months you’re likely to be able to use the service most eg: summer vacation or a long holiday from work.