eBooks have come a long way and gone through many transformations since being released over ten years ago. The advantages of eBook readers are multifold over spine-and-cover books and tablets. You’ve got obvious things like memory space, to clarity and lighting, distraction free reading, and even waterproofing.
With so many different companies, ranging from Sony to Amazon, there are tons of options. To find the perfect eBook reader, think first–what kind of bookworm are you?
Benefits of an eBook Reader
There are many reasons to switch from traditional books to eBooks. The following are a few of the biggest.
The Power of a Library in the Palm of Your Hand
Instead of having to carry around an entire library on your back, with an eBook reader, you can carry thousands of titles in one handbag-sized tablet. And that tablet will sort and alphabetize your titles for you–something that’s near impossible in the unkempt homes of reading addicts.
Something else about eBook readers: when you need to find a book or a passage, you can just poke a few letters into the search box, and there it is. That’s much easier than tearing apart your house looking for it, or having to comb through hundreds of paper tabs on your favorite books.
Then you have the deep, varied shops that all eBook readers come with. You can easily find the latest and greatest books and even get recommendations tailored just for you.
Easy to Use Because It’s Gentler on Your Eyes
Early versions of eBooks were harsh on the eyes, but with advancements in e-ink, the screen’s become easier to look at and in some ways better for you than an actual book.
Big achievement number one: lack of blue light. Blue light not only tires out your eyes, but also stimulates your brain–so if you snuggle under your covers with a traditional tablet before bed, you aren’t going to get much shut-eye. Some eBook readers give you an option to turn off blue light or have it follow the rise and fall of the sun.
Distraction Free Reading
Kindle, Barnes and Nobles, and Sony all have their eBook stores available on tablets, phones, and personal computers, so why even get a reader? Well, it gives you time away from the notifications and the messages and the 24-hour Doomsday news reel. You can focus solely on reading.
eBook Readers do connect to the internet, but options are extremely limited–most lack even a web browser. There’s less reason to mindlessly browse Facebook and more reason to focus on your novel or manga.
How to Choose an eBook Reader – Buying Guide
Now that we’ve converted you to eBook readers, the next step is figuring out which one suits you best. The following are key things to keep in mind when selecting.
Select an Online Bookstore That Carries Your Books
You’re looking for a sweet new sci-fi title; it’s six bucks on Sony’s ReaderStore, five on Amazon’s Kindle Store, and–oh–iBooks doesn’t even have it. Not every online store (and, by extension, eBook reader) offers the same selection, at the same price, to the same effect.
So, to start off, you should download an eBook store on your phone or tablet, and see if they have deals on books that interest you. Also, some stores may get titles first–or not at all–so think about your favorite authors and act accordingly.
Then, think, what genre do you like? Science and comic books (including Japanese manga) are niche genres, so make sure the bookstore stocks them. (And, if there’s pictures, look and see if your reader displays them clearly.) If you like the oldies, look out for stores that offer DRM-free public domain literature–because who doesn’t appreciate a little free Joyce?
There are also stores that loan out books; you check them out for a cheaper price, then return them. Get on that, especially if you’re a college student.
If You Read Graphic Novels or Manga, Consider the Capacity
Most eBook readers use flash memory. What with the restless pace of technical innovation, storage capacity is ballooning, while the physical body of the reader itself grows more and more emaciated. Still, even with all these advancements, the high quality images of manga and graphic novels can quickly take up all the available space on your eBook reader.
Some stores have started to work around this with cloud storage, where everything’s on the internet. But if you’re always flying on planes or have a limited data plan, you’ll need to download a bunch of files onto your reader anyway.
The destitute student, though, may have to settle with a low capacity reader that’s got a cloud option, because more storage comes with a heftier price tag.
Bath-time Reading? Be Sure It’s Waterproof
It’s happened before. You’re reading Jane Austen in the bath, next to the pool, by the beach. Darcy confesses; you get excited; the book slips out of your fingers and into a watery grave. So here’s another thing eBook readers have over ink and paper–some of them are waterproof.
Waterproofing’s represented by a rating system called IP. You’ve got two digits–the first one tells you how dust-resistant something is, the second, how water-resistant.
Both numbers operate on a scale from zero to eight–the higher the better. Eight means the reader can go for a swim in the pool and come out alive; five means you can spray water on it. Anything lower, and you might have some issues. To find out how waterproof something is, check the packaging.
Top 10 Best eBook Readers to Buy Online
10. BOOX N96
The Perfect eBook Reader for Your Golden Years
If you’ve got visual impairments (probably from reading too much), check out this reader. It has a special zoom-in feature, so you can read small print. It also comes with a pen, so you can scribble in your annotations and draw a few pictures to boot.
The processor’s a little slow, but unless you’re constantly buying new books or flipping back and forth through pages, it won’t really matter. The screen’s gentle on the eyes; the whole thing weighs 509 grams. It’s not waterproof, though, so if you’re a butterfingers that likes to read during your bubble bath, try for something else.
9. Sony PRS-T2
An eBook Reader That Was Made to Fit in Your Hand
Sony’s PRS-T2 comes with built-in Wi-Fi, a stylus pen, and weighs only 170 grams. It’s got this curved back that feels really good in your hand.
It can access only the Sony Reader Store, which doesn’t have the biggest selection, but it gets the job done for most. It’s also compatible with SD cards, so you’re not limited to internal memory. SD cards are light and each one can carry thousands of books, so you don’t need to fuss about which titles to bring on a long, long vacation.
8. inkBook Classic eBook Reader
A Competitive eBook Reader with Unique Features
Ink and paper snobs, may we introduce you to the inkBOOK? It doesn’t rely on backlighting and, instead, imitates the beautiful, smooth matte of pulpy paper. (To make the “real book” facade even more convincing, inkBOOK promises zero ads.) It’s got an expandable memory slot and 4 GB of internal memory.
It’s also open platform–the reader will take apps from other companies (yes, Kindle and yes, Kobo), as well as read PDF, TXT, HTML, the whole shebang. It also boasts this font–OpenDyslexic–for, you guessed it, dyslectics.
7. Kobo Aura One
When Life Happens, This is the One You Want to Have
Who knew waterproofing could be such a beautiful thing? The Aura One can fall into a pool, be dropped into the bathtub, or even have a glass of water spilled on it; it will keep on functioning. It comes with 8 GB of flash memory and tunes out blue light at sundown–so you can read before bedtime and still get to sleep.
You’ve got no ads and a beautiful e-ink display. It’s also the only Kobo to be connected to Overdrive, which is a service used to check out eBooks from public libraries.
6. BOOX Max2
Best eBook Reader for Technical and Scientific Books
The screen stretches 13.1 inches, so you can read scientific papers, graphs, and large documents without squinting or flitting around the screen. You can also pinch to zoom in or out. For those that love the feel of graphite and ink, know the stylus responds to pressure; lines get thicker the harder you push. So go ahead–pen notes on sheet music, doodle on PDFs, or open an MOBI on one side of the screen and take notes on the other.
It’s got 16 GB of flash memory and communicates via WiFi and Bluetooth. It does have a web browser on it, and if you want to, you can attach a Bluetooth keyboard to it and use it as a second screen for your workplace.
5. Amazon Kindle Voyage
Beautiful Mid-Range Kindle that Keeps You Reading
Well, first off, it’s a Kindle–you’ve got a good selection of books, and the resolution’s great, so you can read tiny footnotes without wanting to scratch your eyeballs out. But the lighting’s a bit odd; it’s consistent for the most part, but yellows near the top, which is minimally distracting–depends on how picky you are. The reader will also dim or brighten depending on whether you’re under the sun or under your covers.
The Voyage has got this new feature: Page Press buttons. You squeeze the edge of the device, and the pages’ll turn; you might find it helpful, or you might find yourself flipping pages accidentally and getting progressively more frustrated.
4. Kobo Aura H20
Worry-free eBook Reader at a Reasonable Price
The H20 is fully waterproof, so you’re free to have as many accidents by the pool or jacuzzi as you’d like. It’s also got 4 GB of internal memory, an SD card slot, and a crisp 6.8 inch screen. And it’s out to please. You can configure how inky (strong or thick) the text is, how small the margins are, what font you’re reading, and so on. It’ll also take you through JPEG, PNG, GIF, TXT, HTML–any common file type, really.
The backlight’s strong, and it spreads across the page consistently–none of those distracting splotches. You’ve also got a browser and games, but don’t hold your breath on this one; the only time the device doesn’t lag is when you’re actually reading a book.
3. Barnes and Nobles Nook GlowLight Plus
Take This One Camping, Fishing, Hiking, Anywhere
Waterproof, dustproof, and scratch resistant, the Nook GlowLight Plus can handle whatever you throw at it. The screen’s beautiful, for one. You can adjust the brightness and the font size; the e-ink’s easy on the eyes, and there’s no glare–read out on a park bench and not have to squint.
There’s no browser with this one, and even if there were, the device would be too laggy to handle internet–a page takes forever to refresh. At least you won’t be distracted by a million and two notifications.
2. Amazon Kindle PaperWhite
Best-Selling and Has Every Feature but Audio
You’ve got some nice frills with this one: a dictionary, note-taking, font adjustment, ability to export highlights as PDFs. Oh, and Page Flip. With Page Flip, if you’re reading and you need to go back 27 pages or so to check something, you can do that–and the device’ll bookmark the last page you were on, so you can flip right back to it. (But there’s still no audio.)
The screen’s clear; the backlight’s bright; it looks like a normal book–and is just as easy on the eyes. You can read it on a mountaintop and have no glare.
1. Amazon Kindle Oasis
Your Waterproof Audio Bookstore
So first, you’ve got a choice between 8 GB or 32 GB of space; then, you’ve got backlighting provided by 12 LEDs and a glare-free touch screen for beach reads. The Oasis is lighter than its predecessors, and yet it’s fatter on one side; that’s where you grip, and it feels really good in your hand. The buttons are just the right height and at just the right place; you won’t press them accidentally, but when you do want to turn a page, there’s no need to search and no need to strain your fingers.
It is, of course, waterproof. It has the audio bookstore, Audible, built in as well, so you can put the book down and keep listening when your eyes are tired.
Hopefully, we’ve inspired you to stop straining your poor eyes reading on your iPhone, and to get an eBook reader. Each one comes with so many features–audio, note taking, color highlighting, waterproofing–that frankly, the only thing you’ll miss about the old ink and paper is the smell. Maybe, in the future, someone will come out with a scratch-and-sniff reader.
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