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E-book reader comparison

Take thousands of books with you wherever you go.

Updated

Compare some of the top e-readers

NameAverage priceWater-resistant?Internal storage (GB)Screen size (inches)Purchase
Kobo Forma$250Yes88Shop now
Kobo Clara HD$120No8 6Shop now
Kindle Oasis$250Yes87Shop now
Kindle Paperwhite$160Yes326Shop now
Nook Glowlight Plus$200Yes87.8Shop now
Data obtained January 2020. Prices are subject to change and should be used only as a general guide.

What is an e-book reader?

An e-book reader — or e-reader — is a digital device designed for reading books on the go. Most e-readers are designed for portability and are lightweight, compact and fairly durable. These devices usually come with a six- to eight-inch screen encased inside a plastic shell with a plastic screen, though some premium options come finished in materials like glass and aluminum.

You can purchase and download books directly on the device. Some Amazon models include free 3G connectivity, which lends access to Amazon’s full book library.

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What can e-readers do?

E-readers are designed for reading books electronically, but most models come with advanced features that provide readers with an even more fascinating experience. Some of these top features let you:

  • Download books in seconds with ease
  • Access the web
  • Get definitions for words
  • Read in or around water
  • Comfortably read at night
  • Have thousands of books with you at once
  • Read single-handedly
  • Make notes in a book
  • Adjust the size of the text
  • Know how long you have left to go in a chapter
  • Translate sections of a book
  • Browse footnotes without difficulty
  • Easily read books in the public domain
  • Organize all of your e-books
  • Read documents on the go
  • Borrow from a library
Not all e-book readers come with all the above features. But the good news is that most e-book readers get updated less frequently than smartphones do, so you won’t have to worry about grabbing the latest-and-greatest device year after year.

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What are the options?

There are three main brands of e-readers that currently dominate the market: the Amazon Kindle, Rakuten Kobo and Barnes & Noble Nook.

Amazon Kindle

Amazon has long been the major player in the e-reader world, with its lineup of Kindle e-readers steadily growing and improving. Choose from cost-effective options like the base Kindle model price at $90, to the all-new Kindle Oasis for $250.

Amazon also has a fully-fledged Kindle app for Android, iOS, PC and Mac, where you can browse through the collection you already have, purchase new books and even pick up where you left off on your Kindle with Amazon Whispersync.

Rakuten Kobo

Kobo, owned by Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten, has several ebook readers on the market that compete with Amazon’s offerings. Similar to Amazon, Kobo has several models ranging in size and price, starting around $70 and costing upwards of $250 for the most advanced model.

Kobo’s app is available on iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows Store, PC and Mac and allows you to buy, browse and customize your e-book experience right from the app.

Barnes & Noble Nook

This bookseller launched its Nook e-reader back in 2009 and now has six different options, ranging in size, price and features. The basic Nook Tablet currently sells for $50, while the latest Nook Glowlight Plus costs around $200.

Nook also offers two Samsung Galaxy options: the Tab A Nook and Tab E Nook. Both models are full-featured Android tablets, and can also serve as e-readers. Register your Nook with Barnes & Noble to buy and download books, magazines, newspapers and more from the Nook Store.

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How to compare e-book readers

When shopping for e-readers, consider these features to help you find the best bang for your buck:

  • Price. E-readers range in price from around $50 to $300 or more, with the more expensive models usually equipped with the most advanced features, bells and whistles. Compare features of a few models in various price ranges to make sure you won’t be disappointed with a lower-cost option.
  • Water resistance. Many e-readers are water-resistant, making poolside or even bathtub reading a breeze. So if you fancy a good book near the water, make sure your e-reader won’t crash in a splash.
  • Size. E-readers range in size — some are close to the size of a smartphone, while others resemble a tablet. While larger screens are generally easier to read on, they can be more cumbersome to tote around when traveling.
  • Lighting. Most e-book readers use front lighting, which illuminates the screen without directly shining in your eyes. Some models also offer adjustable brightness, night mode and other lighting features to reduce strain on your eyes even more.
  • Storage. E-books typically come with anywhere from four to 32 gigabytes of storage. Four GB should be plenty for the average reader, while true bookworms might want to opt for the extra storage.
  • Battery life. If you’ll be away from a power source for long periods of time, longer battery life can come in handy.
    • Amazon claims that its Oasis and Paperwhite models last for up to six weeks, while the Kindle can last four weeks.
    • The Nook is supposed to last up to two months on a full charge when Wi-Fi is switched off, and up to three weeks with Wi-Fi on.
    • Kobo is a bit more vague with its battery life estimates, saying its devices “last for weeks.”
  • Display. Premium e-book readers feature displays with 300 pixels per inch (PPI), strikingly similar to the iPhone 8, which sports 326 PPI. And while many e-reader displays are made of plastic, the Amazon Oasis features a glass screen.
  • 3G connectivity. Some of Amazon’s e-book readers come with free, built-in 3G connectivity, so you can purchase and download new books on the go. Amazon’s coverage map shows you where you’re able to connect to the net around the world. As well as accessing Amazon, you’re free to browse through Wikipedia.
  • Language. If you prefer to read in other languages, make sure your e-reader supports it:
    • Amazon Kindle devices can be configured in English, Brazilian, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, Simplified Chinese and Spanish.
    • Kobo supports English, Brazilian, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish and Turkish.
    • Nook supports Afrikaans, Basque, Catalan, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Hungarian, Icelandic, Indonesian, Italian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Romanian, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish and others.
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Bottom line

When choosing an e-reader, consider the price, size, compatibility and extra features to help you pick the best option for your reading style and budget.

How did we choose these products?

We compared the price, size, display and overall features of e-readers from Amazon, Rakuten and Barnes & Noble to choose our top picks.

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