Last year, we spent 5 months travelling through 12 different countries with a baby under the age of 1. We were packing both both tropical and winter climates, and of course, had all of our baby equipment with us as well. Let’s just say, we were not packing light. So when it came to choosing some guide books, we were hesitant to purchase bulky, heavy, paper guide books. We ended up purchasing three of our guidebooks in digital format; The Lonely Planet guide to Iceland on Kobo and the Lonely Planet Cyrpus guide and the Lonely Planet South Eastern Europe Guide on Kindle.
We hated both the Kindle and the Kobo equally, but in different ways.
Let me start by saying we were not using an actual kindle or kobo, we were using the respective apps on our phones and tablets. Also, we only purchased the Lonely Planet versions, so some of the problems with the formatting may be more related to the actual Lonely Planet production than to the e-readers themselves. This review is about our personal experience. If you have had a different personal experience, I welcome you to tell me about it in the comments.
We Hated the Kobo Reader
We had some Chapters gift certificates so we decided to use them on the Lonely Planet guide to Iceland ebook. We purchased the Kobo version (since this is the only version that the Chapters website sells) and downloaded the Kobo app on to our phones.
The major problem with the Kobo version was immediately clear. None of the photos would download!! When you are trying to research where to travel to in a guidebook, the photos are something that are quite helpful. And it was more than just pretty pictures which was missing from the Kobo guidebook… also none of the maps would show up either! All we got was large black square where a map or photograph was supposed to be. Helpful.
We Hated the Kindle Reader
The Kindle version of the guide books was a little better than the Kobo… as in… it actually showed the pictures and maps, but it did let us down in a couple key ways.
The main reason we bought the guidebooks was so that we would have a light and portable way to get information while on the road. However, our Kindle app had a nasty habit of occasionally signing us out of the app. We would only notice this in the most inopportune times.. like when we are on the highway trying to figure out which exit we need to take. And of course, without an internet connection you can not sign back in.
It also had another major failing. For each of the attraction and restaurant recommendations, the GPS coordinates of that attraction were programmed into the ebook. If you clicked on the “show on map” link it would theoretically open up your maps app on your phone. What a great concept! Well, it would be great if the GPS coordinates were correct. We spent ages on a couple occasions wandering around in circles, trying to find a restaurant that just didn’t seem to exist….. until we were told it was actually several blocks away.
We Hate EReader Guide Books in General
There are a few things that I just dislike about ebook readers in general. I mean, I much prefer holding a real paper book in my hand, but I can tolerate an ebook reader when I am simply reading something from start to finish. But when I need to bookmark pages, and jump back and forth between chapters… that is the one very weak point of ebook readers. Nothing can compare to being able to fold corners, use bookmarks, and highlight things in a paper guidebook.
With travel guidebooks, usually the map of the region is on the first page of the chapter. So as you are reading through the guidebook, if you read about something interesting and want to check if it is on your route… well you need to swipe, swipe, swipe until you get back to the page with the map. Then you need to swipe, swipe, swipe until you get back to the page you were on. And again, and again, and again.
After having no maps in Iceland, broken or incorrect links in Eastern Europe and constant issues with being signed out in Greece, we declared never, ever to chose an ebook version over a paper guidebook, ever again.