If lockdown boredom is sending you in search of the best eReaders, we have plenty to keep you entertained, and with the capacity to store thousands of eBooks at once, you can download all the rock biographies and fantasy epics you want and never run out of space. When it comes to the top-rated eReaders, two brands tend to dominate: Amazon Kindle, and Kobo. Kindle is synonymous with eBooks and has become the eReader of choice for most folks. Kobo is the slightly quirkier choice, pumping out some nifty devices designed to feel a tad more book-ish in your hands.
So, how much can you expect to pay for one of the best eReaders? It depends. If you’re just out to grab the cheapest eReader and run, you’re looking at £79.99/$99.99 for the basic Amazon Kindle. The cheapest Kobo eReader is The Nia, priced slightly higher at £89.99/$79.99. We cover both models below, plus several other brilliant eReaders for different budgets.
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eReaders have come a long way since their debut 14 years ago, and now pack in a raft of features to boost your reading pleasure. These include a backlit display that’s easier on your eyes, especially during bedtime reading sessions, plus a touchscreen for easy swiping between pages. The best eReaders are waterproof for reading in the bath or hot tub (yeah, in our dreams), and last several weeks per full charge so that you can lose yourself in a good book and forget about everything else.
Look, life is tough right now but we’re all in lockdown for a reason. Reading has proven mental health benefits and can help you to relax, destress, and switch off that anxious part of your brain for a bit. Sound good? Then let’s find the best eReader for you.
Best eReaders: Product guide & reviews
One of the most popular eReaders of all time, the Kindle Paperwhite is a small and compact device from Amazon. It has a built-in backlight, which can be adjusted depending on whether you’re reading indoors or outdoors, providing the perfect reading experience if you’re in the living room or reading in bed at night.
The Paperwhite is also waterproof, with an IPX8 rating, which means it can be immersed in water for up to 60 minutes. This should be more than enough peace of mind for reading in the bath or if you get caught in downpour during an al fresco read.
Amazon also makes a range of specially designed form-fitting covers, which make this Kindle even more stylish and durable.
If you don’t mind opting for a non-Amazon device, then the Kobo Forma is one of our favourites. It has a very simple look, which maximises your reading experience. However, it’s also built for comfort, with an ergonomic design so you can enjoy reading for hours.
We like its versatility, with a landscape or portrait reading mode, as well as the fact that it’s waterproof, just like the Kindle Paperwhite.
It may not have Amazon features, like Audible or WhisperSync, but it does have OverDrive, an eBook lending service.
The recently redesigned Amazon Kindle Oasis is one of the best eReaders your money can buy right now, despite being the priciest option here. It has a seven-inch Paperwhite Kindle display, which makes reading anything a dream, especially with added optimised font technology for crisp and clear lettering.
It has a built-in light, which can be adjusted for brightness and warmth, making it ideal for easing you into sleep. Not only does it have a simple design, it’s also built with ergonomics in mind, making it comfortable to hold for hours.
Because it’s an Amazon eReader, it also has Audible integration, which means you can easily switch between reading and listening.
The Amazon Kindle Kids Edition is exactly as you’d expect: an eReader designed for little ones. This means it comes with a ‘kid-proof’ cover designed to withstand grubby mitts and a bit of rough and tumble. It’s also covered with a two-year guarantee, during which time if the Kindle breaks, you can return it for a free replacement. Nice, right?
There’s plenty of other reasons why the Kindle Kids Edition is the best eReader for children, including Word Wise and Vocabulary Builder features to strengthen their reading skills. Like Kindles for adults, this one supports Audible (subscription required) too, so your kid can listen to audiobooks when they’re done reading.
You’ll also get a year’s free subscription to Amazon Kids+ (Fire for Kids Unlimited) when buying the Kindle Kids Edition, giving your little one access to thousands of books, including Harry Potter. You can also choose from four different Kindle Cover colours: pink, blue, Space Station, and Rainbow Birds.
As you’d expect from an Amazon eReader, the Kindle Kids Edition is very easy to use and a real joy to read upon. The black and white display is glare-free for reading beneath both artificial light and sunlight, and the touchscreen is responsive with hardly any lag when turning pages. While the battery life could be better – it lasts around four weeks per charge, based on 30 minutes’ reading a day – this is a cracking Kindle that’s built for adventure.
Behind the Kindle Paperwhite, the Kobo Libra H2O is one of our most recommended eReaders, because it ticks many of the boxes when it comes to eReading. It’s affordable, has a built-in light with adjustable colour temperature for reading at different times of the day, as well as landscape and portrait reading modes.
It comes in black or white, but Kobo also makes a range of colourful accessories, so you can mix up your eReader whenever you fancy. Like many of the other eReaders in our list, the Libra H2O is waterproof, which gives you peace of mind wherever you’re catching up on some reading time.
Kobo is the main Kindle alternative, and the Kobo Nia is the latest addition to its growing range of eReaders. It’s not far off the rock-bottom price of the basic Amazon Kindle, and offers enough storage to pack in 6,000 eBooks on average. Don’t expect to upgrade that storage though, as the Nia only comes in an 8GB version. If you do have a bit extra to spend, you could buy a colourful, artificial leather SleepCover (£19.99/$19.99) to protect the device and automatically pop it to sleep whenever you flip the cover shut.
We really love the Carta E Ink display on Kobo eReaders, as they feel almost paper-like beneath the fingers. It’s a nice touch, and it also makes the glare-free six-inch display a treat for the eyes – reading on the Kobo Nia is comfortable and enjoyable. You can even read in bed using this device, as the Nia sports a ComfortLight with adjustable brightness so that you can carry on reading without disturbing your partner. Of course, if you want an eReader that reduces your exposure to blue light before sleep, check out the Kobo Forma.
The Kobo Nia eReader is designed to last for several weeks per full battery charge, but this depends on how much you read – proper bookworms will drain that battery fast. The ‘Marmite’ feature here is called OverDrive, which enables you to access your local library to borrow eBooks from the Nia via integrated public library borrowing. It doesn’t work in every country, and there isn’t always the greatest selection of eBooks available.
Ultimately, the Nia is now the cheapest Kobo eReader you can buy, so if you’ve always fancied owning one of the stylish eReaders but don’t have the budget to stretch to the Clara HD, the Kobo Nia is the one for you.
One of the cheapest options from Kobo, the Clara HD may be budget-friendly but it still has plenty of features – making it an ideal option if you want to try out eReading for the first time, or if you're looking for a gift for a relative.
It has 8GB of storage, which should be enough space for more than 6,000 books, as well as Kobo’s ComfortLight PRO, which will find the optimal lighting for the conditions you’re reading in.
The original Kindle but refreshed year upon year, the Kindle is now one of the cheaper eReaders on the market – yet it still boasts a number of handy features, like a built-in light, a thin and light design, as well as Audible integration.
It’s perfect for reading on the go, as you can use it with one hand. It also has a light to help you read wherever you are. It may lack the storage and features of more advanced Kindles, including adjustable lights and waterproofing, but if you’re looking for a budget option this one is perfect for you.
It may be different to every other device on the list, but if you enjoy reading digital comics and graphic novels, then it might be worth investing in an iPad instead. The Apple iPad has a fantastic 10.2-inch display with a 2160 x 1620 pixel resolution and 500 nits of brightness to really make colours really pop.
Buying an iPad for reading only really makes sense if you have a large budget, love comics or you want to use the Apple tablet for more than just reading, whether that’s work emails, drawing apps, games or social media.
Best eReaders: Buying advice
Don’t get us wrong, we have stacks of paperbacks and hardbacks at home, but lugging those beasts around takes effort. They also take up storage space and are usually more expensive, especially when eBook subscription services like Kindle Unlimited give you access to thousands of titles for a few £/$ a month. But when choosing the best eReader for you, be realistic about how often you’ll use it. After all, there’s no point spending a ton of cash if you only plan on using it for a few hours a week.
If, on the other hand, you’re a serious bookworm and want the very latest eReader tech and hang the cost, expect to pay over £229.99/$249.99 for the Amazon Kindle Oasis. The Kobo Forma is pricier still, making it the most expensive eReader around. For those who want a brilliant eReader that sits smack-dab in the sweet spot, offering brilliant features and a great display for a smaller price tag, choose the Kindle Paperwhite (£129.99/$129.99).
Love reading in the bath? Then the best eReader for you is waterproof and designed with an easy-grip frame. Head straight for the Kobo Libra H20. Bedtime readers, look for an eReader that has a built-in sleep timer or sleep mode, as this will kill any blue light emitting from the screen. Blue light from devices and TVs has been shown to disrupt sleep, so best to avoid that if you want a good night’s kip.