Discussion about the recent changes to B&N have revealed a number of Kobo customers are having trouble with some Kobo books they’ve purchased. Kobo’s Customer Care department (a misnomer if ever I heard one) will tell buyers who complain that the problem occurs because the book is “ePub3″. This is actually not the case. EPub3 books can be downloaded just fine – the problems arise when you come across a (fortunately) rare KePub book.
ETA: I’ve been keeping an eye on the comments and browsing through the Mobile Reads forum about this topic. It seems the problem is both ePub3 and KePub – ePub3 books can be downloaded – other etailers don’t seem to be having the same problem. Those books which are uploaded to Kobo in ePub3 format are going to be KePubbed and won’t be downloadable. This appears to be a compatibility issue with the way Kobo likes to do things and ePub3. This thread at Mobile Reads suggests that all new Tor books will have this problem if purchased from Kobo, as they are publishing their books in ePub3 format.
Unfortunately, therefore, it seems the problem will become more frequent. If downloading matters to you, I do suggest you either learn the obok trick referred to in the comments (Nate at The Digital Reader has some tips) or follow the steps below to check the format before you buy. I suppose customers could also complain to the relevant publishers – if they receive enough complaints perhaps it will spur a fix at either end.
KePub is, as I understand it, Kobo’s proprietary ePub format. If you do buy a KePub book it won’t download to your PC and while it will appear on your Kobo reader (if you have the wi-fi turned on), it doesn’t show up in the files if you connect the device to the PC in attempt to load the book into Calibre. Wherever the file is kept, it’s not visible to the average reader trying to back up her books. Library Addict tells me that KePubs can be placed on the PC via the Kobo for PC app but I haven’t tested this myself.
My best advice is to avoid KePub books altogether. Here’s how:
1. Before you buy a book from Kobo, Save a Preview to your library.
2. If the Preview indicates the book has a download format of “EPUB (DRM FREE)” or “Adobe DRM EPUB” you are safe to buy and download as normal.
3. If the download format is blank, the book is most likely a KePub and you should buy the book elsewhere if you want to download it.
This is what it looks like if you make the mistake of buying a KePub ebook from Kobo (I got a refund by the way)
***PLEASE NOTE: This DOES NOT WORK on Pre-Orders. The book has to be available to save a preview to your library. If you pre-order, it’s a crapshoot so far as I can tell. ***
It does add an extra step to the process but it guarantees you will be able to download your legally purchased book onto your PC and import it into Calibre. If it has DRM, and if you are a DRM-stripper (for personal use only) you can even back it up so it remains yours yours yours.