The Best E-Readers for Your Digital Library

Put thousands of book titles at your fingertips with an e-reader.

BobVila.com and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.

The Best E-Reader Option

Photo: amazon.com

With an e-reader, you can carry thousands of books in one handheld device, allowing you to take an entire library of books everywhere you go.

An e-reader provides instant access to thousands of new titles via online bookstores and public library collections. The best e-readers are smaller than a paperback book, last for weeks on a single charge, and provide a better reading experience than a phone or tablet. Some models are watertight, which makes them suitable for reading at the beach or in the bathtub.

With so many e-readers on the market, how do you pick the best e-reader? Ahead, find tips to help find an e-reader and recommendations for the best e-reader models on the market.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Amazon Kindle Paperwhite 
  2. BEST BUDGET: Amazon Kindle – Ad-Supported + Kindle Unlimited
  3. BEST MID-RANGE: Kobo Clara HD
  4. UPGRADE PICK: Amazon Kindle Oasis
  5. BEST FOR PDF: Lenovo Tab M10 Plus
  6. BEST FOR TEXTBOOKS: Kobo Aura
  7. BEST FOR COMICS: Amazon Fire HD 10 Tablet
  8. BEST FOR KIDS: Amazon Fire 7 Kids Edition Tablet
The Best E-Reader Option

Photo: amazon.com

What to Consider When Choosing the Best E-Reader

When shopping for an e-reader, consider a number of factors, including its size, weight, interface, memory capacity, battery life, and more.

Size and Weight

E-readers are small and lightweight, so they can be read while standing at a bus stop or curled up in a living room chair. Small e-readers measure about 4.5 inches wide and a little over 6 inches tall, about the same size as a paperback book. Larger models are approximately 6 inches to 7 inches wide. At about 0.3 inches thick (without a case), e-readers are thin. Smaller e-readers weigh about 6 ounces, while larger models are closer to 7 ounces.

Screen

Screen sizes vary among different types of e-readers. The standard size is 6 inches, but 7-inch screens are also common. A few models offer screens as large as 8 inches. Larger screens allow the user to adjust the font to a larger size.

E-readers generally come in two resolutions: 167 pixels per inch (ppi) and 300 ppi. Letters pixelate on a 167-ppi display, but they’re much sharper at 300-ppi resolution.

A backlight makes the device easier to read in direct sunlight or darkness. Most e-readers allow users to adjust the screen brightness, and the color temperature also can be changed on most models. Research suggests that the cool, blue light that electronic devices emit can affect sleep, so some readers can switch to a warmer, yellow-tinted light for reading at bedtime.

Interface

Most e-readers offer a touch-screen interface, but some models also offer manual button controls. Since many people take their e-reader to the beach or pool, button navigation is helpful because touch screens often won’t respond to damp fingers.

Memory Size

An e-reader should have enough storage to capably house a library. If users store their books in the cloud, they’re inaccessible with no access to Wi-Fi. Most e-readers provide between 8 and 32 gigabytes (GB) of memory.

For most people, 8GB is enough space. Most e-books take up 1 megabyte of space, which means an 8GB e-reader can store about 6,000 books.

Battery Life

Expect the e-reader’s battery to last longer than a laptop, smartphone, or tablet. Most e-readers last around 30 hours before needing a recharge, depending on the display’s brightness settings and whether users also use it to listen to audiobooks.

Water Resistance and Waterproofing

E-readers can stand up to moisture, but some models are “water-resistant,” not “waterproof.” While a waterproof device can survive submersion in water for some time, a water-resistant device is watertight only enough to survive minor splashes or wet hands.

Audiobook Capability

Most newer model e-readers support audiobooks as well as text-based books. Users can listen via headphones or earbuds, while others have Bluetooth connectivity for wireless devices.

Additional Features

Many e-readers contain tools that let users mark passages in a book, search for specific text, or even make notes. The e-reader can catalog these notations to find them later, an especially helpful feature for students. Moreover, many e-readers note popular passages that other readers have highlighted.

Some e-readers offer page-turning options: one-touch page-turning or swipe page-turning that mimics a real book.

Our Top Picks

Now that you have an idea of some of the features to consider when shopping for an e-reader, use this list of top picks to choose the e-reader that’s best for you.

Best Overall

The Best E-Reader Option: Amazon Kindle Paperwhite
Photo: amazon.com

Amazon’s Kindle Paperwhite, with its lightweight, sleek design, long battery life, advanced memory capacity, and easy-to-read interface, makes it one of the best e-readers on the market. At about 6 ounces, the 10th iteration of the Paperwhite is the lightest yet. It features a 300-ppi display, and it’s waterproof so a beach read or even a home improvement book can go to the pool with its owner.

The Paperwhite has up to 32GB of storage and an audio jack for audiobooks. The battery has enough power for weeks of reading before it needs a recharge. Amazon offers the largest catalog of books available to download onto its e-reader, and it partners with many public libraries to allow users to check out e-books free.

Best Budget

The Best E-Reader Option: Amazon Kindle - Ad-Supported + Kindle Unlimited
Photo: amazon.com

This ad-supported Kindle, which Amazon refers to as a “Special Offers Kindle,” is a bit cheaper if its users agree to see targeted advertisements. The ad exposure is minimal, appearing only on the lock screen and screen saver. This e-reader features Kindle’s classic interface with a 167-ppi and glare-free display, so it’s usable in direct sunlight.

While the battery life is comparable to the more expensive Paperwhite, the resolution is not as sharp. It doesn’t have an audio jack, but it supports Bluetooth-enabled headphones, earbuds, and speakers.

Best Mid-Range

The Best E-Reader Option: Kobo Clara HD
Photo: amazon.com

To use a public library without visiting a physical location, the Kobo Clara fits the bill. This e-reader’s interface is one of the best available for book-borrowing from U.S. libraries, thanks to its integration of the Overdrive book-sharing software that libraries use.

At just under 6 ounces, Kobo is lightweight, and it features a sharp screen with a color-changing ability for reading that’s easy on the eyes. In addition to working with public libraries, it also supports various formats, including ePUBs, PDFs, RTFs, JPEGs, and text files. Like comparably-price e-readers, the Clara features a 300-ppi resolution and a 6-inch screen.

Upgrade Pick

The Best E-Reader Option: Amazon Kindle Oasis
Photo: amazon.com

With its 7-inch screen, 300-ppi flush-front display, waterproof design, and steep price, the Kindle Oasis may be the “Cadillac” of e-readers. The Oasis lets users adjust the screen light’s color to switch from sleep-disrupting blue light to orange light for nighttime reading.

Program the reader to automatically adjust the color temperature based on the time of day. Its screen is a bit bigger than its siblings at 6.3 inches by 5.6 inches, but it still weighs less than 7 ounces because it’s so slender.

The Oasis is waterproof and will connect to Bluetooth headphones and speakers, making it compatible for audiobooks.

Best for PDF

The Best E-Reader Option: Lenovo Tab M10 Plus
Photo: amazon.com

PDFs are sometimes hard to read on small-screen devices. Lenovo’s M10 Plus, an Android-based tablet, features a 10.3-inch screen to eliminate squinting to read tiny fonts.

While a tablet may seem like a bigger investment, the M10’s price tag is comparable to mid-range e-readers. It doesn’t have the retina-friendly soft lighting and resolution of an e-reader, and at 1.4 pounds, it’s almost twice the weight. However, it supports the additional functions of a tablet, such as apps and Internet access.

Best for Textbooks

The Best E-Reader Option: Kobo Aura
Photo: amazon.com

The Kobo Aura can read 14 file formats, making it a good option for those looking for an e-reader that can handle textbooks and e-study guides. Most e-readers may be able to handle only one or two formats, but electronic textbooks come in multiple formats, including PDF, EPUB, PNG, JPEG, HTML, TXT, and RTF.

The Kobo also provides access to digital public library books. It offers a long battery life and features Kobo’s ComfortLight PRO backlighting, which lets users adjust brightness and color, reducing the amount of eye-straining blue light emitted from the screen.

Best for Comics

The Best E-Reader Option: Amazon Fire HD 10 Tablet
Photo: amazon.com

Whether consumers are Team DC or Team Marvel, they need a larger screen, high-resolution e-reader to do Thor or Green Arrow justice. The Amazon Fire HD 10 has a 10.1-inch screen and 1080p display that does just that. The large screen lets users view the entire page rather than a panel at a time.

With a 2.0 GHz processor and 2GB of RAM, the Fire packs enough power to load pages quickly, eliminating breaks in the action. Also, the Fire has the functionality of a tablet at a price similar to a mid-range e-reader.

Best for Kids

The Best E-Reader Option: Amazon Fire 7 Kids Edition Tablet
Photo: amazon.com

Kids can be destructive, which is why the child’s version of the Fire has a substantial, kid-proof case backed with a two-year guarantee. The Amazon Fire has a 7-inch full-color display with a 171-ppi resolution that works well for large, colorful children’s books. It boasts 16GB, enough to handle the space-hogging graphics of a child’s book.

The Fire is lightweight and small, weighing about a pound. Other features include a speaker and headphone jack for audiobooks. The Fire Kids Edition comes with a one-year subscription to Amazon Kids+.

The Advantages of Owning an E-Reader

An e-reader offers many advantages over paperbound books.

  • An e-reader allows users to store an entire library on one small device.
  • It’s much more portable than a collection of books.
  • A waterproof e-reader can safely go to the beach, bathtub, or pool.
  • It provides instant access to millions of titles through online bookstores and public libraries.

FAQs About E-Readers

If you still have questions about e-readers, keep reading to learn how these devices work and what to look for when shopping for one.

Q. How do e-readers work?

When used with a Wi-Fi connection, an e-reader allows users to access an online bookstore or library to purchase or borrow a book to download for immediate use.

Q. What’s the difference between a tablet and an e-reader?

A tablet allows users not only to read e-books, but also to access apps for games, music, entertainment, browsing the Web, and more.

Q. Do e-readers reduce eyestrain?

E-readers use a type of display different from that of a computer screen. It’s called E ink, and it mimics the look of ink on paper, causing less eyestrain than other types of screens. Many e-readers let users change the screen’s color temperature, limiting the primary source of eye fatigue from screens: blue light.

Q. How do I choose an e-reader?

If you don’t mind smaller print, choose an e-reader with a 6-inch display, which is more affordable than an e-reader with a larger display. If you’re planning to read by the pool or at the beach, consider a waterproof e-reader. Those who enjoy audiobooks may want to consider an e-reader with 32GB of storage and an audio jack.