It’s easy to decide to buy an eReader–picking the one to buy is the hard part!
Actually purchasing an eReader took a lot of research and time and it was a hard decision for me. I compare the experience to buying your first car because there are so many models out there! It can be a little overwhelming and you most likely have little experience with eReading so you don’t know what to look for.
So I have created a step by step guide on how to buy an eReader because if there is one question my friends love to ask me it’s: do you like your Kobo?
Do you already have a tablet and want to know more about eReading Apps? Read my section about that here!
My main reason for buying an eReader was to have access to my library’s eBook catalogue. I was tired of my small iPhone screen and the strain it was putting on my eyes. I also buy too many books and was running out of shelf space, so having digital copies in one place was ideal. I didn’t need a tablet option because I had an iPhone and a laptop that I constantly used.
a) Do you want to access a public library’s eBook collection?
This is important because some devices, like the Kindle, are not able to support .epub files so make sure you check with your library what their formats are!
b) Do you want to do other things on your device such as play games, surf the web and check your email?
There are a ton of tablet options like the iPad and iPhone systems that have multiple functions including eReading. Also most eDevice companies have a tablet eReader (that is usually significantly cheaper than an iPad) that can perform these functions as well.
c) How much do you expect to use it & where?
This is a matter of how long you want to stare at a screen for. There are options of LCD (like a computer) or eInk (like a book) which alter your reading experience and your eyes. I will highlight the differences between these later.
Also consider where you will be reading as size does matter! Do you want to be able to shove it in your purse so you’ll always have it. Or do you want a larger screen or device to hold in your hands.
d) Where do you normally buy books from?
Most chain book retailers have their own or endorse a particular eReader brand. Amazon has Kindle (mobi files), Barnes and Noble has Nooks (ePub files) and Chapters/Indigo has the Kobo (ePub files). There are also other non-brand name manufacturer out there that usually read ePub files.
Consider buying eBooks from the same place you buy your physical books from. You’ll likely be aware of any promos they have and may be able to see the devices in person. But it is important to note that eReaders can be purchased nearly any place that sells electronics (and they are often cheaper or have better promotions for the units that often include cases or book light packages)!
e) How much are you willing to spend?
eReaders can range from $50-300 (CAD) or even higher if you are planning on using an iPad or tablet option. I find that books are generally the same price across the board but it depends on how much you want to initially spend on your device. If money is an factor, there are always tons of people selling their old, used models online through classified ads and eBay. Please use this at your own discretion and be careful of people selling nonworking models for parts.
As a Canadian, my options are somewhat limited in what I can get. While I could purchase a Nook from Barnes and Noble, I wanted something that was available in Canada in case I had issues or wanted to buy accessories. So really I was down to the Kindle,
Sonyor a Kobo. I searched a lot on the internet for reviews and I found that they were extremely subjective (and rightfully so as everyone reads differently).
So I felt like I was back to square one but I quickly discovered how to fix that:
a) Look at what eReaders are Available
Popular eReaders (as per Wikipedia)
Amazon Kindle: Kindle, Kindle Touch, Kindle Paperwhite
Barnes & Noble Nook: Nook 1st Edition, Nook Simple Touch, Nook Simple Touch GlowLight
Kobo: Kobo Touch, Kobo Glo, Kobo Mini, Kobo Aura, Kobo Aura HD, Kobo Arc Series
b) Online research or ask friends
Blog or newspaper reviews online can be helpful, but as I said before they can be very subjective. The best thing I did (and the way I ultimately made my decision) was look at Youtube videos comparing eReaders I was interested in side by side. These Youtube videos are great at showing the features of each eReader, especially if you aren’t able to compare them side by side in person. Another option is to see what your friends have and ask them how they like it or better yet, borrow it (as long as your friend can part with it). The Kobo website now has a feature where you can compare their tablets side-by-side or their eReaders side by side; as does Amazon with their Kindles and Barnes and Noble with their Nooks.
c) Go to a Store with Them on Display
When I had to buy my newest Kobo to replace the one I damaged (you can read about that here), I was torn between two models. Ultimately, it came down to the feel and the quality of the light. Looking at YouTube Videos was great, but seeing the actual models in person helped make my decision a LOT easier.
d) eInk vs LCD Screen
LCD screens are what can be seen on your laptop or tablet. eInk is actually like a book page so it is easy on the eyes and is easy to read in sunlight. Most early models of eReaders with eInk do not have a built in light (like an LCD screen) but newer models have built in light features (like Kindle Paperwhite or Kobo Aura). I find LCD screens hurt my eyes after reading for a long time so eInk was my choice (and I love it, especially when I get caught reading for hours!).
e) Touch Screens vs Buttons
This is definitely a personal preference! Touch screens typically require you to touch the screen to turn pages and have a “home” button to access your library. Your keyboard will also be a touch screen. Buttons require you to use them to turn pages and navigate. Some may also have a button keyboards. Current trends seem to be moving away from the button models and going completely touch.
The best thing you can do is look around for deals. Around Christmas, you can always expect deals but most retailers have a deal for free/cheap accessories or gift cards at various times during the year. Deals around Mother’s and Father’s Day also appear to be a growing trend as well. You can also find eReaders at retailers like Best Buy, Staples and Sears; not just online at Kobo, Chapters or Amazon sites. As I said before, these third party eReader stores are often cheaper and run promotions for packages that include book-lights or cases. However, they aren’t always cheaper so it’s best to do a little research.
After my research I narrowed down my options to a Kindle or a Kobo Touch.
Because I wanted to read library ePub files, I went with the Kobo Touch (Kindle titles are not available in Canada for libraries) and I haven’t regretted it! I absolutely love my eReader and it does everything I need it to.
My first eReader was a white Kobo Touch. The back was a softer plastic that got dirty easy. I would have preferred the black model because it would show less dirt in the long run but it was fine.
Unfortunately, after 2 solid years of reading on my Kobo Touch, its life ended in March 2014. Read about my experience buying a new eReader here. I decided on getting a Kobo Aura which has a built in light. It was worth the extra money to get that feature.
I also bought a Kindle Paperwhite a couple years later for review copies. Like my Aura, it has a built-in light which is awesome. I’m not a huge fan of its interface (it is quite different from my Kobo) but it is still a great device and what I recommend for those set on getting a Kindle.
- Kindle/Amazon tends to have more free eBooks than Kobo and they make it easier to find the free books compared to Kobo
- Amazon and Kobo tend to have the same prices for books but, Amazon I find has a larger selection (some books are only published as Kindle versions or in print)
- Kobo now has a Price Guarantee program to make it more competitive with Amazon
- You can’t transfer Kobo books to a Kindle Device or vice versa, so take that into consideration if you are want to switch brands
- Kobo often has discount weekends or “buy 1 get 1” weekends for select books on their site
- Kobo also has a cart option so you don’t have to buy books individually
The books on the Sony eBook website can also work on Kobo eReaders and as of March 2014, Sony has closed their eBook store and has merged their system with Kobo
- Lots of books are only available as eBooks or are released early as eBooks (this is a growing trend with novellas in series)
- Lots of public libraries host eReading tutorials to learn how to use your new device
- Buy a case to protect the screen and allow for safer transport; or make one with the many DIY tutorials online
(Last Updated: November 15, 2016)