The perfect e-reader award is definitely a tie

This story has been up to date. It was initially printed on April 25, 2020.

E-book readers are one of many clearest indicators the longer term is now—having a whole library in your pocket powered by a battery that just about by no means runs out is precisely what my seven-year-old self was dreaming of (sorry, iPhone).

In the event you love studying however are nonetheless new to e-readers, you’re in for a severe deal with. It’s by no means been simpler to hold round what could be a big hardcover to learn in your commute or your trip. And should you’re caught with an outdated e-book reader and wish to improve, now is an efficient time to do it. In contrast to smartphones, the e-book panorama shifts glacially, however there are a couple of nice choices that weren’t accessible a couple of years in the past.

The library conundrum

E-book readers aren’t actually standalone gadgets—they’re the {hardware} expression of a complete software program ecosystem. Which means relying on the place you purchase your e-books (Amazon, Google Play, Barnes & Noble, the Kobo retailer, and many others.), you’ll solely be capable to learn your e-book on gadgets with a selected working system.

Purchase Little Ladies on iTunes and also you’ll solely be capable to open it on the iBooks app in your Apple gadgets. Porting the identical file to your Kindle (Amazon), and even studying it on the Kindle app for iPadOS or iOS, isn’t a easy course of and requires breaking the digital rights administration (DRM) seal that protects the file.

In the event you’ve already amassed a large e-book library and wish to replace your e-reader, an important function to search for is compatibility. When you have a Kindle, follow Kindles, and if in case you have a Kobo, follow Kobos. Switching working methods includes altering your whole ecosystem; should you achieve this, be ready to purchase your whole library over again.

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In the event you’re shopping for an e-reader for the primary time, you’ll positively have extra freedom. However nonetheless, selecting which retailer you wish to go along with is a serious resolution since you’ll need to keep it up at the very least for the foreseeable future.

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For the reason that phrase “Kindle” is now synonymous with “e-reader,” it might sound Amazon has already gained the e-book conflict, however the on-line retailer isn’t the one possibility. There are two different main selections with devoted {hardware} accessible: the Kobo Retailer, and Barnes & Noble’s Nook Retailer.

There’s not lots of distinction between these options. If there’s an impartial writer you like they usually solely publish on one retailer, that could be a purpose to decide on one over the opposite, however past that, all shops largely inventory the identical array of titles and let indie authors self-publish.

Barnes & Noble’s Nook Retailer raises a couple of purple flags, although. After pulling out of the UK in 2016 (and leaving current prospects in a little bit of a bind), they’re now solely accessible within the US. Plus, they replace their {hardware} much less ceaselessly and customers have flagged their plastic construct as inferior to that of Kindles and Kobos.

In the event you’ve already invested in Nook and haven’t any issues accessing their retailer, sticking with it’s not a nasty thought, however given these circumstances, it’s positively exhausting to advocate shopping for one as your first e-reader.

The Kindle is by far the preferred line of e-readers. In the event you’re getting an e-reader for the primary time, going for a Kindle is a protected guess. Amazon is clearly dedicated to its roots as a bookseller and is very prone to stick round and maintain offering help in your machine.

In the event you dislike Amazon’s enterprise mannequin, query their ethics, or just don’t wish to give much more cash to a billionaire like Jeff Bezos, then a Kobo is a straightforward selection. Their {hardware} is each bit nearly as good as Amazon’s, and their big selection of obtainable titles will certainly fulfill all of your studying wants.

For most individuals, the Kindle Paperwhite is the e-reader to purchase. Positive, there are cheaper gadgets on the market, however this one hits the center floor between worth and efficiency completely. And with Amazon’s big e-book retailer, you’ll by no means be wanting one thing to learn.

It’s exhausting to not find it irresistible. It incorporates a flush 6.8-inch, 300ppi E Ink touchscreen show that appears nice, and at 7.2 ounces—concerning the weight of three Snickers bars—it’s straightforward to hold round. The machine is IPX8 waterproof rated, so a couple of splashes by the pool, or perhaps a fast dunk, gained’t hurt it. The LED entrance gentle makes it straightforward to learn anyplace, whether or not in direct daylight or curled up subsequent to a flickering hearth. When you have an Audible account, you may join a pair of Bluetooth headphones and take heed to audiobooks.

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In the event you’re already tied into Kobo’s ecosystem, the Clara HD is a good improve to older fashions just like the Glo or Contact 2.0, and should you’re searching for a brand new e-reader, it’s positively the perfect non-Amazon possibility—although it’s exhausting to advocate it over the Paperwhite for another purpose.

It’s received an identical 6-inch, 300ppi front-lit E Ink touchscreen show, which is tremendous straightforward to learn on. What units the Clara HD aside (aside from the truth that it’s not tied to Amazon) is that it’s barely smaller and lighter, however these variations are minimal and don’t have an enormous impact on consumer expertise. One good contact is that the display screen tints extra towards yellow because the day goes on, however in contrast to its Kindle counterpart, it’s not waterproof and doesn’t have Bluetooth capabilities.

What else is on the market?

The Paperwhite and Clara HD are the perfect merchandise of their respective lineups, however they aren’t the one ones. If neither of our solutions be just right for you, you’re not out of luck.

Extra Kindle choices

Amazon additionally sells the Kindle—an entry-level mannequin—and the Kindle Oasis, however each miss the mark for completely completely different causes.

The Kindle is just too shut in worth to the Paperwhite to be definitely worth the tradeoffs. It’s not waterproof and solely has a 167ppi display screen, so textual content will look noticeably fuzzier. The display screen feels much less premium, because it’s noticeably recessed—the bezel casts a slight shadow and it looks like a type of old-school ATM contact screens you needed to thump to get it to easily register a contact. In the event you’re undecided whether or not you’ll use a Kindle or not, it may be taster, but it surely’s an inferior machine.

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The Kindle Oasis, then again, begins at $250 and incorporates a cool uneven design, aluminum physique, an robotically adjusting 7-inch display screen, and bodily web page buttons. It’s an absolute delight to make use of, but it surely’s exhausting to justify the $120 worth enhance over the Paperwhite, particularly since I’ve discovered its battery life to be considerably worse.

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Take into account that Amazon additionally carries its line of Fireplace gadgets, and despite the fact that they can be utilized to learn books, they’re strictly tablets, not e-readers. You may at all times strive one in every of these, however they’re a wholly completely different product.

Extra Kobo choices

The Kobo Libra H2O, in the meantime, is price a glance. Just like the Kindle Oasis, it has a 7-inch display screen and an uneven design with bodily buttons to show your pages. It’s additionally IPX8 waterproof and, at only a small price above the Clara HD, the premium options don’t include the Oasis’ ludicrous price ticket.


With 7.8-inch and 8-inch screens, respectively, the Kobo Aura One and Kobo Forma simply gained’t slip right into a jacket pocket or small bag, so that they’re virtually too huge to hold simply. Aside from the larger display screen (which finally ends up being extra of a fuss than a plus) there’s no approach to justify their costs over the Libra H2O.

Nook choices

The issue with Barnes & Noble’s Nooks isn’t the gadgets, it’s the ecosystem itself. Contemplating its fluctuation in measurement, if one of many three huge e-book reader makers fall, odds are it’ll be Barnes & Noble. With that mentioned, should you’re searching for a Nook, you might have an possibility.


The Nook GlowLight 3 is huge, plasticky and, regardless of having an identical display screen and the added page-turn buttons, looks like a less expensive knock-off of the Paperwhite. It’s an honest e-reader, however the GlowLight3 is equally priced to the Clara HD and unattainable to advocate over it.