E-readers can help you save the space an entire physical book collection takes up while allowing you to enjoy new titles and favorites all from one device.
We researched the best e-readers for every lifestyle, considering storage, features, battery life, and size. Based on these factors, the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (2021) is our favorite for its portability, adjustable brightness, and ability to highlight text.
Here are the best e-readers to consider.
Best Overall: Amazon Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition
Upgraded lighting adjustability
Small and portable
Long battery life
Charging takes five hours
Costs extra for ad-free lockscreen
Case sold separately
Who else recommends it? PCMag, Tom's Guide, and CNET all picked the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (2021).
What do buyers say? 91% of 10,200+ Amazon reviewers rated this 4 stars or above.
The eleventh-generation Kindle Paperwhite introduces major upgrades to the Kindle lineup, including improved lighting customization, faster charging, and a waterproof design. It's our top recommendation based on this extensive feature set and ultra-portable build.
Like prior generations, the 2021 Kindle Paperwhite has a glare-free display that looks like real paper even in direct sunlight, but the resolution has been bumped up to 300 pixels per inch (PPI). Amazon claims that this change makes the display ten times brighter when you choose the highest setting. We love that you can adjust the light for comfortable reading at all hours of the day, and schedule routines for light temperature changes. The battery charge lasts for a generous ten weeks, but replenishing the battery requires five hours via a computer. However, you can cut this time in half with a compatible power adapter.
If you enjoy audiobooks, you can sync the Paperwhite to headphones or speakers to listen to your books through Audible. It also has enough storage to house thousands of books to create your own virtual library. Students and bookworms alike might find the dictionary, translation, and highlight features useful for looking up and saving specific passages. In a departure from past models, this version is also waterproof in up to 6.5 feet of water for an hour. If you want more screen protection and grip, you can add the charging case separately or in a bundle.
Best Kindle Alternative: Kobo Clara HD
Built-in blue-light reduction
Can change font size, style, and margins
Inconvenient on and off switch
Occasional delays with touch inputs
If your eyes are sensitive to screens and artificial lights, you might consider the Kobo Klara HD, our top Kindle alternative. With ComfortLight technology, the 6-inch, 300 PPI display offers a natural, paper-like reading experience—even in direct sunlight. The front light minimizes blue-light exposure for more comfortable reading at night, but you can adjust the brightness and color temperature of the screen at any time.
The Kobo Clara HD comes with numerous customization features for a personalized reading experience. You can adjust the text to suit your vision with various font weights, sharpness, and margin settings. This e-reader also offers highlighting, note-taking, and can hold up to 6,000 books in a lightweight build—less than 6 ounces.
Best for PDFs: BOOX Max Lumi2
Perfect for note taking
Non-glossy or eye-straining screen
Advanced accessories aren't included
This large-screen eReader is ideal for students taking notes, professors downloading large documents, or avid readers and writers looking for a replacement for paper and pen. The BOOX Max Lumi2 displays A4-sized files, so viewing PDFs and textbooks is quick and easy, and the advanced octa-core processor ensures that multitasking is possible without wasting battery.
Multiple compatible third-party note apps make note-taking easy and smooth, and the built-in stylus is perfect for taking notes during class. However, extras like a protective case and different pen tip options, like the matching BOOX Pen2 Pro that mirrors a handwriting experience, require an extra investment.
Best Luxury Kindle: Amazon Kindle Oasis
Adjustable lights and shades on screen
Pages turn like a real book
Pricier than other Kindles
Ad-free version costs more
The 7-inch Kindle Oasis is the premium model in the e-reader lineup. It's available in graphite or champagne gold and with a durable aluminum body, has a high-quality 300 PPI paperwhite display, and features a waterproof design. Similar to the Kindle Paperwhite (2021), the Oasis can handle submersion in up to 6.5 feet of water for up to 60 minutes, which means you can feel confident taking this e-reader with you as you soak in the bathtub or lounge by the pool.
Another high-end feature of this e-reader is the adaptive front lighting that automatically adjusts based on the surrounding lighting conditions. You can also adjust the screen from white to warm amber to minimize eye strain and light stimulation. Like other Kindles, you can pair headphones to listen to Audible books, and an ad-free experience costs a bit extra. The Oasis also supports many document types, including PDFs and DOCX, and offers life-like turn paging motions for comfortable reading.
Best Large Screen: BOOX Note Air2 E-Ink Tablet
Large, adjustable screen
Third-party app support
Pricier than many competitors
Those looking for a larger space to read textbooks or PDFs—especially those with charts or diagrams—might want to opt for the Boox Note Air2. The e-reader boasts a 10-inch screen, and the brightness and color temperature control allow you to read in the dark or bright sunlight.
The large format and multi-touch screen makes this an optimal option for note-taking in margins, opening multiple documents at once, adding bookmarks, and adjusting the size of the text. While expensive, the Boox Note Air2 also has Android capabilities, so you can use third-party apps from the Google Play store, such as Google Drive and Dropbox. Support for these productivity apps makes the Air2 perfect for students looking for an e-reader to use in class or for studying.
Best for Library Books: Kobo Forma
Accommodates left-handed readers
Portrait and landscape modes
Power button feels unresponsive
Display can lag
Syncing doesn't always work on the first try
The Kobo Forma is another sleek and lightweight Kindle alternative. It runs for about the price of the Oasis with similar tech-forward features, including lighting, text, margin size, and highlighting options, but comes with a larger 8-inch display and Dropbox support for viewing documents and e-books. One of the standout features is the ability to borrow library books from your library via Overdrive. If you don't have an account, setting one up and linking your profile with your library account is easy. Once you do that, you can borrow titles and request holds without switching to a browser on another device.
Another plus is the curved ergonomic design that accommodates both left- and right-handed page-turners for customized comfort. You can read books in portrait or landscape mode and set it to automatically adjust the orientation based on how you hold it. While this e-reader has many positive aspects, it can be prone to lagging at times and delayed syncing. The power button is also quite stiff and takes time to engage. Still, this lightweight model is easy to personalize and great for library-goers.
Best for Kids: Amazon Kindle Kids
Comes with 1 year of Amazon Kids+
Magnetic cover included
Navigation can be difficult
Limited free content without subscription
If you're shopping for a child aged seven and up, your best bet is the Amazon Kindle Kids Edition. It has a 6-inch black and white glare-free screen and comes with a durable magnetic cover. The cover is available in bright solid colors or kid-friendly prints.
The Kids Kindle comes with one year of Amazon Kids+, including all "Harry Potter" books and other children's series. Since it's designed strictly for reading books, it doesn't have any games, ads, or videos. The library of free titles could also be limited without renewing an Amazon Kids+ subscription. However, you can get the Fire Kids Tablet if you want more versatility from the learning content.
Best for Bright Sunlight: ONYX BOOX Poke 3
Multiple light settings
Includes internet browser
Reduces screen flickering
Operating system could be hard to navigate
Backlit screens can create glare and be difficult to read in natural outdoor lighting, but the ONYX BOOX Poke 3 solves this dilemma. This impressive e-reader has a 300 PPI E Ink display with a MOON Light 2 backlight feature that helps reduce blue light and offers lighting temperature customization so you can find the setting that's most comfortable for your eyes. This adjustability allows you to read it in bright sunlight or pitch-dark room, and it's just as easy on the eyes as a paper book. Another helpful display feature is the SNOW Field function you can turn on to reduce screen flickering, which can be common on e-readers.
The Poke 3 runs on the Android operating system, which gives you more settings and access to various reading programs. Discovering the right customizations could come with a learning curve, but with a touchscreen and internet browser, this e-reader makes it easy to browse books and surf the web, all on one device.
Best Tablet for e-reading: Apple iPad Mini (2019)
Lots of storage space
Larger screen than alternatives
Lacks paper-like reading experience
If you want a multi-purpose device, we recommend the iPad Mini. It has an 8-inch screen and a lightweight design that's smaller and slimmer than most books. While you won't get an E Ink display, the high-resolution Liquid Retina Display has True Tone technology, which automatically adjusts to the lighting in your environment.
Aside from reading, you can use this device to surf the web, scroll through social media, watch videos, shop, email, work, and access virtually any iOS app. Using your iPad as an e-reader also allows you to read picture books or textbooks in full color, a feature that sets it apart from most e-readers.
What to Look for in an E-reader
Plenty of e-readers use E Ink, which simulates the appearance of real paper. Other options, like the iPad, have an LCD screen that is more like your cellphone. Both have advantages and disadvantages, so it's worth looking into to see which screen gives you more of what you're looking for.
All e-readers have to be recharged eventually. Some models only last a few hours, while others can have a battery life that goes on for weeks. Most e-readers use Micro USB charging cables, which can take several hours to provide a full recharge. If your e-reader comes with internet connectivity and many other features, battery life could deplete faster depending on your usage. Alternatively, if you leave your reader in standby (sleep) mode, the battery could last up to eight weeks.
Most e-readers allow you to store a healthy selection of files. A capacity of 8 gigabytes (GB) is common, which is enough space to hold thousands of books. If you plan on keeping a wide range of books on your device for the long haul, along with storing audiobooks, photos, and apps, you might want a model with at least 64GB or the option to expand storage. Extra storage room often comes with a heftier price tag.
Size and Weight
While most e-readers are portable, some are more comfortable to hold or transport than others. If you want something smaller and lighter that is easy to toss in a bag and go, slim and compact builds will probably be most suitable. If you need more screen space to view and annotate larger documents or want an option that allows you to also draw, bigger 10-inch screen models could be more compatible with your needs.
Where can you buy e-readers?
Electronics stores, online retailers, bookstores, and even places like Walmart, Target, and Best Buy carry various versions of e-readers. Online retailers like Amazon are also a great choice for buying virtually.
Are e-readers better for your eyes than tablets?
When compared to laptops, smartphones, and tablets, most e-readers are designed to be better for your eyes. Most options use E Ink technology, which is a type of paper-like display meant to mimic the pages of a book. E Ink readers do not emit blue light like LCD screens, which can be bad for eye health. Of course, always consult your optometrist before making decisions regarding your eye health.
What is the difference between an e-reader and an iPad?
Most e-readers have limited capabilities other than reading books. While some come with Wi-Fi, iPads and other similar tablets have other apps and capabilities that e-readers don't, including messaging and internet usage. If you're looking for a tablet specifically for reading, most e-readers will be perfect. For a tablet with more features, you might want to opt for an iPad or something similar.
Why Trust The Spruce
Theresa Holland has significant experience in researching, reviewing, and writing about tech products and books. She's an avid reader and Kindle owner and is always on the hunt for the most comfortable reading experience. Additional reporting was done by Julia Fields, a lifestyle writer for The Spruce covering all things surrounding toys, gifts, and the holidays since October 2021. Before that, she covered similar topics including toy reviews, product roundups, expert-focused articles, and more.