Love to read but hate to lug around multiple books in your bag? If you've yet to jump on the e-reader train, it might be something to start considering. Yes, we know — nothing beats the feel and smell of a "real" book, but e-book readers provide greater portability, flexibility and convenience that a physical book just can't match.
Additionally, many e-readers are now outfitted with extra functions that offer even more convenience, such as backlights that enable you to easily read in the dark without waking your partner and internet connectivity so you can download new books from multiple sources in a snap. Others allow you to transfer files like pdfs to your e-reader, so you can even read work documents and other files on the go without squinting at your phone or bringing along a physical copy or your heavy laptop.
And if you think the only quality e-reader on the market is the Kindle because that's the name everyone knows, and "Kindle" is practically synonymous with "e-reader" by this point — well, think again. You have numerous options to consider, and each e-reader comes with its own benefits.
Intrigued? Check out the 10 best e-readers on the market right now.
Amazon Kindle Options
There are multiple versions of the Kindle to consider.
First up, there's the Kindle Paperwhite. The Kindle Paperwhite is an upgrade from your basic Kindle, as it's thin, waterproof and glare-free. It also boasts an impressive battery life of up to two weeks with the WiFi turned on and up to six weeks with the WiFi turned off.
Additionally, the Paperwhite function is a screen design that mimics reading on actual paper, meaning little to no eye strain and fewer worries about staring at screens all day, even while reading for leisure. You can adjust the backlight to read in the dark as well.
Compared to the Kindle Basic, the Kindle Paperwhite offers a higher screen resolution and a longer battery life, but the screen size is the same and the Kindle Paperwhite weighs more (just slightly).
Released in 2019, the Amazon Kindle Oasis offers a few key features that make it stand out from the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite. It's ideal for those who heavily use their e-reader and need a wide array of functions.
With a larger screen than the Kindle Paperwhite or the basic Kindle, the Kindle Oasis features a color-adjustable front light (as well as light sensors that automatically adjust the lighting to your surroundings). Plus, it has a side panel along the screen's long end with page-turning buttons (so there's no need to lift your finger to swipe through every page). The battery life is similar to that of the Paperwhite, at around six weeks.
You can purchase two different versions of the Oasis, one with 8GB of storage or 32GB of storage. Most buyers won't need the latter if they're only using their e-reader for reading, as 8GB of storage is more than enough for thousands of books. Still, the 32GB of storage does come in handy if you want to store other media on your e-reader, such as audio files or audiobooks from Audible.
A handy little built-in feature called X-Ray takes your reading experience to the next level, allowing you to highlight text, look up words and learn more about the work you're reading.
The Kindle Oasis is water-resistant rather than waterproof, and it can withstand immersion in water depths up to just over six feet.
But you can't forget about the kids! If you struggle with getting your kids into the world of reading because they'd rather stay on their phones, try sliding this piece of tech in front of them.
The Kindle Kids Edition is specifically designed for children, so you get access to children's books via Amazon Kids+ (the device comes with a free one-year subscription). There are no other social media or gaming apps on the device, and the parental controls are easy to use. There are even a few built-in tools that are meant to assist early readers, such as vocabulary builders that help define words in a way anyone can understand.
The Kobo brand is well-recognized as an excellent alternative to the Kindle line. Just like the Kindle name, Kobo offers several various e-readers to select for all your reading needs.
The Kobo Forma is a little bit larger than the Kindle Oasis, with an eight-inch screen, and users like that it's compatible with a broader range of files than many Kindle devices, from graphic novels to EPUB books to .txt files to PDFs. You can easily send files via your computer over to your Kobo Forma as well.
The Kobo Forma comes pre-installed with the OneDrive app, which allows you to borrow library books from local libraries.
Like the Kindle Oasis, the Kobo Forma does feature the page-turn buttons, and it's also water-resistant.
But if you need something that goes beyond water-resistant and that will be entirely waterproof (in case you enjoy reading in the bathtub, at the beach, near the pool, etc.), look to the Kobo Libra H2O.
Slightly smaller than the Kobo Forma, it features a seven-inch screen and 8GB of storage, capable of holding 6,000 e-books. Like the Kobo Forma, the Kobo Libra H2O supports a wide array of file types.
The plastic device is waterproof for up to an hour in 6.5 feet of water.
The Kobo Clara HD is a more budget-friendly option from the Kobo brand, but the more affordable price (around $100 depending on where you buy one) hardly means that you'll be sacrificing any quality. You get an excellent, high screen resolution comparable to that of the Kindle Paperwhite, as well as 8GB of storage. You enjoy the same extensive features offered on other Kobo models, like screen lighting that's easy on your eyes (no blue light!) and compatibility with a wide array of file types.
Other E-Reader Options
But Kindle and Kobo aren't the only names in the game. You have additional options as well.
The Barnes & Noble Nook is an Android-supported e-reader, so if you already have a phone that runs on Android, you may find this e-reader exceptionally easy to learn (though if you're accustomed to Apple products and iOS, you may experience more of a learning curve).
The Nook Glowlight Plus supports multiple file types — including PDFs — and will allow you to download third-party apps. The body is plastic, lightweight, waterproof and dust-proof. Plus, it features those handy page-turning buttons if that's a feature you like. It also has a bigger screen than some Kindle options, at 7.8 inches.
The screen lighting isn't as great as what you'll find with other e-readers, and the waterproofing is more like water resistance, but if you don't necessarily need those features, you won't notice the difference.
The Onyx BOOX Max3 is, compared to all the other e-readers on this list, humongous. At 13.3 inches, the screen is perfect for those who want to see it all in large font. It also makes this e-reader popular with those who are reading more complex files than just your average novel, such as scientific papers or textbooks. In fact, the screen size has been compared to looking at a page of printer paper.
Some cool features include a stylus so you can write on whatever you're reading, audiobook compatibility and a voice recording feature for voice notes. The Onyx BOOX Max3 runs off Android as well.
Just keep in mind, this is one big e-reader, so it's not as portable as some of your other options, and it's not waterproof or water-resistant either.
If you pay close attention to storage and power when shopping for any new tech piece — e-readers included — check out The Likebook Mars. With 2GB of RAM and 16GB of base storage, you can't really ask for more. Plus, this e-reader also comes with a built-in SD card slot, which many e-readers unfortunately don't have. With the SD card slot, you can increase your storage to 144GB for some serious reading!
The Sony Digital Paper is more than just an e-reader — it's also kind of an electronic notebook that you can take on the go. The long-term reading display is excellent for work, as is the paper-like screen texture for writing and taking notes. In most cases, this e-reader will be best suited to those using their device in a classroom or job setting.
The 10.3-inch screen is large, but not too large, and the e-reader offers 5.5 hours of battery life. It also comes with a stylus.
FAQs About E-Readers
New to the world of e-readers and have questions? You're not alone. Here are some answers to the top FAQs about e-readers.
You'll see many e-readers touting that they use an "e-ink display," but what exactly is that? E-ink is a display format that closely resembles the appearance of real paper. It results in less battery drain on your device and less strain on your eyes. In contrast, your phone or laptop likely has an LCD screen, which shines light directly into your eyes while in use, which e-ink screens do not do.
Can't I just use my tablet as an e-reader?
You could! In fact, many e-readers offer tablet-like functions such as access to third-party apps, Bluetooth connectivity and a touchscreen so that you can use your e-reader as more than just an e-reader. On the reverse side, many tablets give you access to e-reading apps and places where you can download readable content.
However, purchasing an e-reader for reading versus a regular tablet often comes with reading-specific perks, like direct access to stores of books, page-turning buttons or functions that cut down on eye strain. Additionally, tablets tend to be more expensive than e-readers, so if budget is a concern, that's certainly something to consider.
Are e-books free once I buy the e-reader?
Unfortunately, some poor shoppers assume that once they purchase an e-reader, they have easy access to all the digital books they desire — just turn on the e-reader, find the book you want, download and start reading. However, the e-reader is just the device; you have to actually buy the books you want to read in most cases unless your e-reader supports downloads from your local public library.
For example, if you have a Kindle device, the easiest way to purchase books is via the Kindle Store or Kindle Unlimited, but do note that there are free books in the Kindle Store, too. They might not be the most in-demand books, but they are free.
Other websites offer free classic literature for download to various e-readers, such as Project Gutenberg.
What to Look for When Buying an E-Reader
There are a few things you'll want to consider when buying an e-reader:
- Ease of use
- Number and types of file formats supported
- Where all you can download/borrow books using the device
- Battery life
- Screen resolution (many modern e-readers offer 300 PPI)
- Screen Size
Some of these factors may be more important to you than others, such as screen size if you like large-font books or battery life if you want to take your e-reader on the go and not worry about charging during long plane flights or your commute. Whatever your needs, though, you're sure to find an e-reader that meets them.
You might also like: Should You Buy a Chromebook? [And The 7 Best Chromebooks to Buy Right Now]
The 10 Best E-Readers: