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Your guide to the best e-readers: Kindle, Kobo, and more

Leave the paperbacks behind with thousands of eBooks at your fingertips.
By
December 21, 2021
Kindle Paperwhite 2021 showing the notes clippings page next to a notebook
Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

For some people, a paper book won’t do anymore. Whether you want to save space or you read too quickly to carry enough books, you might be ready to try an e-reader. The current landscape looks quite different from the past, but one name remains the same — Kindle. We’ll walk you through some of Amazon’s best options, as well as more of the best e-readers you can check out.

There are many reasons to choose an e-reader over a physical book collection, but the choice isn’t always simple. We’ll start with a few guidelines before getting to our top picks. If you still have any questions, we will do our best to dig up the answer for you.

See also: The best e-book apps for Android

Buying the right e-reader for your needs

Like we said, finding the perfect e-reader is sometimes harder than it sounds. While the Kindle family is great for many people, it’s not always the most flexible. Here are a few more things you might want to keep in mind as you start shopping.

  • How much screen do you need? You can buy different-sized books and grab your favorite paperbacks with large text, so why not your e-reader? Certain models come in at just 6 inches, perfect for life on the go, while others stretch to 7 inches or more. If you need larger text, it may be a good idea to grab a larger device to match.
  • Where does your library live? Not all eBooks are created equal, or they don’t always follow the same file types. You may want to consider the supported formats before you make a purchase, as some models from Kobo support everything from GIFs to EPUBs, TXTs, and HTML.
  • Do you need waterproofing? Granted, you’re probably not taking your favorite book for a swim, but you could with your next e-reader. Many models offer a degree of waterproofing, which makes life a whole lot easier if you’re catching a few chapters poolside or relaxing on the beach.
  • Would a tablet serve you better? The final question is whether or not an e-reader is right for you. If you love reading (and you probably do if you’re reading this list), then you’re probably set with an e-reader. However, if you want a device with full-color options and the ability to stream music and movies, it may be time to invest in a more powerful tablet.

Learn more: Our guide to the best tablets you can buy

Kindle Paperwhite (2021): The best e-reader you can buy

Kindle Paperwhite 2021 placed on top of books showing book cover
Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority
aa2020 the best

To be the best, you have to beat the best, and no e-reader has come close to dethroning Amazon’s Kindle lineup. The new Paperwhite is the latest in a long line of e-readers, and a few key changes mean it’s better than ever. For starters, the Paperwhite packs handy USB-C charging, so you’re one step closer to ditching micro-USB for good. Amazon also grew its latest Kindle Paperwhite to a 6.8-inch display with slimmer bezels than the previous model.

Brighter, faster, stronger — the Kindle Paperwhite is the best e-reader on the market.

Where the Paperwhite 4 packed just five LEDs, the fifth-generation leaps to 17. This means you have more control over your display’s brightness and temperature. Unfortunately, a few of Amazon’s best features are locked behind a $50 price increase, including wireless charging. The extra cost also gets you 32GB of storage, good for more books than you’ll ever be able to carry.

In our review, we found that the latest model is significantly faster than her aging Paperwhite 3. Everything was smoother than before, whether she opened a book, browsed her library, or checked on a menu.

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite 2021 with the screen showing a book, on a table, next to a cup of coffee and plant, version 1
Kindle Paperwhite
The Kindle Paperwhite is a mid-range e-reader with great features. It has a relatively large 6.8-inch display with a 300ppi resolution, screen lighting for reading in the dark, and a stunning battery life that will last weeks.

Pros

  • Faster than the Paperwhite 4
  • USB-C charging
  • Larger display in a smaller footprint

Cons

  • Accidental touches with smaller bezels
  • Higher base price
  • Certain features cost extra

Check out our full review to learn more about the Kindle Paperwhite.

Are you looking for other recommendations? While the Kindle Paperwhite is our top recommendation, keep reading below for other choices worth considering.

Other products worth considering

The best e-readers

  • Nook GlowLight 4: The Nook was Amazon’s first e-reader rival, and it’s still kicking. If you already have a Barnes & Noble eBooks collection, this is the way to go.
  • Kindle Oasis: Those of you in need of the most powerful Kindle around can check out the Oasis, with waterproofing and a larger display. However, it’s already two years old and due for an update.
  • Kobo Clara HD: The Kobo Clara HD looks and feels a lot like a Kindle, but it’s more affordable and packs impressive support for heaps of file types.
  • Kindle 2019: If you want to save money with an older model, the 2019 Kindle is a great basic e-reader. It’s not the brightest or fastest, but it’s a reliable way to test the e-reader waters.
  • Kobo Sage: Sometimes, you need to take notes while you read. The Kobo Sage is the perfect way to do so with stylus support without ever losing your spot on the page.
  • Kindle Kids: E-readers aren’t just for adults anymore. This is a great option if your kids want to get in on the fun, thanks to an included year of Amazon Kids+.

Nook GlowLight 4: The best Nook e-reader

ereader nook glowlight 4 best e-readers
Barnes & Noble

If you’re coming back to the e-reader scene after a while away, there’s a chance you had a Barnes & Noble Nook all those years ago. If so, you might be looking for a way to keep up with your old library. Right now, the GlowLight 4 is the best — and only — way to do so. It comes more than four years after its predecessor, the GlowLight 3, though it doesn’t reinvent the wheel.

Barnes & Noble doubled down on a six-inch display with an integrated backlight so you can read in the dark. You can also adjust the temperature as needed. Luckily, the GlowLight 4 offers slimmer bezels, resulting in a smaller footprint overall. It claims an impressive 50 days of battery life on a single charge, up from just about a month in previous versions.

You’ll have to shell out an extra $30 for the latest Nook e-reader, with a starting cost of $149. It packs quadruple the storage — up to 32GB from 8GB. Unfortunately, you won’t find any waterproofing onboard. The GlowLight 4 may be what brings Nook back among the best e-readers on the market.

ereader glowlight 4 product image
Nook GlowLight 4
Nook is making its return to the e-reader game with the GlowLight 4. After four years away, it packs four-times the storage, slimmer bezels, and a beefed-up battery.

Kindle Oasis: The best e-reader for power users

Amazon Kindle Oasis profile shot
Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

Kindle last updated its premium Oasis model in 2019, and it remains one of the best e-readers for those who can afford it. It costs more than the Paperwhite, though a few key specs lag behind. You’ll only find micro-USB charging onboard, along with significant bezels on three sides. Sure, the one bezel packs page-turning buttons, but it does make for a larger device overall.

The good news is the Oasis e-reader comes IPX8 rated to keep water at bay. It also packs enough battery life to last weeks between charges. Overall, the 2019 Kindle Oasis may be slightly quicker than the previous generation, and the display offers customizable lighting options so you can read in any environment. You won’t get as many LEDs to adjust — 12 instead of 17 — but the Oasis automatically takes care of some lighting.

If you have the budget, you can check out a 4G-enabled version with 32GB of storage. As an older Kindle model, we’re expecting an Oasis refresh before too long.

Amazon Kindle Oasis in hand reading
Kindle Oasis
The Amazon Kindle Oasis is a powerful e-reader that makes no compromises. It's fast, bright, long-lasting, and resistant to water. It's also pricey, but you get the best around.

Check out our full review to learn more about the Kindle Oasis.

Kobo Clara HD: The best non-Kindle option

ereader kobo clara hd best e-readers
Kobo

You might not be as familiar with Kobo, but it’s more than deserving of its place among the best e-readers you can buy. It’s similar to the classic Kindle, but it’s been refreshed more recently with 8GB of storage to tote up to 6,000 books wherever you need them. You can adjust the brightness and temperature of the six-inch e-ink touchscreen to read anywhere you go. The Kobo Clara HD packs 50 sizes and 12 different font types if you need a larger font.

Unfortunately, this e-reader charges via micro-USB, unlike the Kindle Paperwhite. However, it supports 15 different file types, including everything from EPUBs and PDFs down to GIFs. It weighs just 166g, so you should have no problem slipping it into a bag for your next trip.

Kobo Clara HD e-reader
Kobo Clara HD
Kobo's Clara HD is one of the best Kindle alternatives, with solid battery life and unrivaled file support to keep you flipping the pages.

Kindle 2019: The best budget e-reader

Amazon Kindle 2019 front with book and text

Some of the best e-readers you can buy pack all the bells and whistles you could ever want. However, some people are just looking for a way to leave their books behind. They don’t need waterproofing or oodles of space, just a reliable option for a few chapters here and there. That’s where the Kindle 2019 comes in. It’s not brand-new, nor does it have heaps of storage, but it won’t put too much stress on your wallet.

The basic Kindle also makes for a good bet if you want to dip a toe into the land of e-readers. You might ultimately decide to stick with paperbacks, and it’s easier to say goodbye when you haven’t invested too much money. It costs just $89 and offers a simple six-inch display. Amazon also chose a hard plastic finish for the Kindle 2019 instead of the rubberized touch on the Paperwhite.

Kindle Basic 1
Amazon Kindle (10th Gen)
The base model gets you everything you need to start reading.
The 10th-gen Kindle isn't as premium as its more expensive siblings, but it gets the basics done. If all you need is the ability to read ebooks on the go, this is what you're looking for!

Check out our full review to learn more about the Kindle 2019.

Kobo Sage: The note-taking e-reader

ereader kobo sage best e-readers
Kobo

Kobo, like Kindle, offers a range of e-readers to meet just about any need. If you want to do a little more than turn pages, the Sage with its Kobo Stylus support may be the best e-reader for you. You’ll have to purchase the stylus separately, but it allows you to take notes and jot ideas while you get lost in the pages. If you’d rather listen to an audiobook, the Kobo Sage supports that too. It features Bluetooth on board so you can pair your favorite headphones and relax.

Kobo packed the Sage with an eight-inch touchscreen and offers a dark mode to reduce eye strain with a gentler experience. You can even take the Kobo Sage to the pool with its IPX8 rating. The Kobo Sage supports both portrait and landscape orientations, giving you the freedom to read however you see fit.

ereader kobo sage
Kobo Sage
The Kobo Sage is a premium e-reader with note takers in mind. It supports the Kobo Stylus and packs Bluetooth technology so you can keep up with your favorite audiobooks.

Kindle Kids: The best e-reader for kids

kindle kids
Amazon

The last pick on our list of the best e-readers is all about showing that reading is for everyone. The Kindle Kids takes everything you love about the classic Kindle and brings it to a kid-friendly platform. While the hardware itself isn’t all that different, the kid-friendly cover and a free year of Amazon Kids+ mean that the Kindle Kids is ready for the smallest readers around.

See also: The best tablets for kids

At its heart, the Kindle Kids is a 10th-generation Kindle, but Amazon Kids+ adds thousands of titles from Harry Potter, Artemis Fowl, and more. You can also set screen limits on how long your kids are reading and filter out books they may not be ready for quite yet. The Kindle Kids comes with 8GB of onboard storage, or you can get the Kindle Kids Paperwhite with all of the added perks.

Amazon Kindle Kids Edition press render
Amazon Kindle Kids Edition
Take the excellent Amazon Kindle and tweak it for kids. You get the Amazon Kindle Kids Edition, which includes several kid-friendly features. The free year of FreeTime Unlimited offers thousands of kid-friendly books, games, movies, TV shows, and educational apps. It also comes with a kid-friendly cover.

Should you get an e-reader or a tablet?

6th gen iPad Mini purple flat
Nick Fernandez / Android Authority

This is one of the most important questions to ask yourself while doing e-reader research. Do you really need an e-reader, or would a tablet suit you better? Well, it comes down to what you want to do.

If you’re after a way to enjoy your favorite books, then an e-reader is the only solution. It will last much longer between charges because the display doesn’t have to work nearly as hard. You can also fit a whole heap of books into the — often limited — storage due to their small size. Of course, an e-reader tends to be a one-trick pony. You won’t be able to enjoy YouTube or other video streaming services, and the magazines that are compatible will often be in black and white.

Those of you hoping for an all-in-one device to stream music, video, and more, you’ll probably want to invest in a tablet. They may cost more, and you’ll have to find a charger a lot more often, but there are fewer limits to what a tablet can do. If you’re worried about the size, you can always check out the iPad Mini, with its refreshed design and travel-ready footprint.

Learn more: The best tablets you can buy

FAQs

Q: Can you download the Kindle app on other platforms?
A: Yes, you can add the Kindle app on both Android and iOS tablets.

Q: How many books can an e-Reader hold?
A: It depends on which model you buy. Amazon claims it can hold thousands of books in the 8GB base storage, but other platforms may optimize differently.

Q: Do e-readers offer parental controls?
A: Yes, or at least, the Kindle family does. The program is called Amazon Kids, and it allows you to manage the content your kids can access, and set limits on screen time.