7 Best E-Readers (2024): Kindle, Nook, Kobo

7 Best E-Readers (2024): Kindle, Nook, Kobo

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Best Overall

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (2021, 11th Generation)

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A Color Kindle Alternative

Kobo Libra Colour

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A Cheaper Color Screen Without Notes

Kobo Clara Colour

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The Most Affordable

Amazon Kindle (2022, 11th Generation)

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I dearly love a paperback book that I can bend, touch, smell, and display on my bookshelf when I’m done. But there’s no doubt that ebook readers (also called e-readers) make life easier—they might just make you read more too. E-readers let you carry thousands of books or dozens of audiobooks in a single, slim, rectangular tablet; they have paper-like screens that are easy on the eyes; and they won’t inundate you with distracting notifications. Books can also be expensive and take up a lot of physical space, but that’s not a problem with ebooks. Even better, you can check out digital books from a library without leaving your house.

Naturally, when you hear “e-reader,” you might think Kindle. Amazon makes the best ebook reader, which is why we have a separate Best Kindles guide that breaks down the entire lineup. But there are a few Kindle alternatives out there in case you don’t want to support Amazon or you just want a different set of features. WIRED’s Gear team has spent months, if not years, reading on these tablets—these are our favorites.

Updated May 2024: We’ve added Kobo’s new color E Ink readers, the Libra Colour and Clara Colour. We’re also currently testing Nook’s newest Lenovo reading tablet.

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  • Photograph: Amazon

    Best Overall

    Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (2021, 11th Generation)

    Amazon’s Kindles are the best e-readers around. It’s dead simple to get new ebooks from Amazon directly, and the Overdrive integration makes it easy to check out books from a local library instantly. E Ink screens in most ebook readers are a little slow when you interact with them, but Kindles are some of the most responsive devices on the market. It’s worth noting that Kindles almost always see steep discounts a few times a year, particularly on Amazon Prime Day and Black Friday, so try to wait for a sale.

    Any of the models in Amazon’s current lineup are better than the competition, but the Kindle Paperwhite is my favorite. I reviewed the Signature Edition (8/10, WIRED Recommends), but the standard $150 model is quite capable too. I recommend paying a little extra for no ads. Both are waterproof, so you can read in the pool or tub without worry, and the 6.8-inch screens also have adjustable warm lighting so you can read in bed. The Signature supports wireless charging, has a front light that can adjust automatically, and has more storage at 32 gigabytes. But the 16 GB on the standard Paperwhite is plenty—it can hold thousands of books. There’s a Paperwhite Kids Edition too, which we recommend below.

    Check out our Best Kindles guide for more advice and recommendations.

  • Photograph: Kobo

    A Color Kindle Alternative

    Kobo Libra Colour

    Kobos have always been a close second to Kindle. The newest Libra Colour (8/10, WIRED Recommends) brings it even closer, thanks to a fun color E Ink screen. You can highlight and mark up book pages, and also utilize the notebook section for notes, to-do lists, or doodles. It’s pricey, and you’ll need the $70 Stylus 2 for writing. It’s still cheaper than the brand’s Elipsa 2E and the Kindle Scribe, which are both meant for note-taking.

    The Libra Colour is waterproof, has physical page-turn buttons (a feature I really like), and is made from recycled materials. There’s Bluetooth support so you can connect headphones and listen to audiobooks, and Kobo slates have Overdrive integration, which makes reading library books simple. You get 32 gigabytes of storage and a speedy 7-inch screen, which has an adjustable front light and even a dark mode that offers up white text on a black background to make reading in the dark easier on the eyes. If you prefer, you can even read it in landscape mode. It’s also repairable.

  • Photograph: Medea Giordano

    A Cheaper Color Screen Without Notes

    Kobo Clara Colour

    If you like the idea of a color screen but aren’t going to write or doodle on an e-reader, consider Kobo’s Clara Colour. It’s more affordable, but you still get to see book covers or graphic novels in full color and you can highlight in color too. Some books weren’t as easy on the eyes, like the blue and yellow color scheme of Curious George, but that was one small gripe in an otherwise seamless reading experience.

    The Clara lacks page-turn buttons, but the 6-inch screen size is comfortable for one-hand use. It has 16 gigabytes of storage rather than 32, but that’s still about 12,000 books. There’s Overdrive integration and Bluetooth support. It’s also waterproof, made from recycled materials, and is repairable. There are several other Kobo devices available too, including a new black and white Clara.

  • Photograph: Amazon

    The Most Affordable

    Amazon Kindle (2022, 11th Generation)

    If you want to spend the least amount of money, you’ll still get a great e-reader with the 16-gigabyte base Kindle. It’s 6-inch screen is the smallest of its lineup, but that means it’s easy to hold and read with one hand while sipping an ice tea with the other. It’s not waterproof, however, so no ice teas on a pool float. And there’s no warm lighting or auto-adjusting light option here. Otherwise, you get the same ease of use as with any Kindle, and you can listen to audiobooks if you connect headphones or a speaker via Bluetooth.

  • Photograph: Barnes & Noble

    Nooks Work Too

    Barnes & Noble Nook Glowlight 4 Plus

    Barnes and Noble now has three Nook Glowlights available and a new Nook tablet made in collaboration with Lenovo (we’re testing that one now). The 4 Plus is the only waterproof option, and it has the biggest screen at 7.8-inches, with 32 gigs of storage. That screen size is a pleasure to read on. I love the physical page-turn buttons, and there’s a headphone jack for listening to audiobooks—you can also connect a Bluetooth pair. It was often slower than my Kindle, though, and it had moments of freezing too.

    Barnes and Noble has a large library with cheap and even free ebooks, but it isn’t as good a selection as Kindle Unlimited—if you’re following recommendations on #booktok, you might not find everything here. Also, the process of trying to get a book from the library on a Nook is beyond frustrating. Depending on what type of computer you have, you’ll need to download either Adobe Digital Editions or Android File Transfer, before connecting the device to your computer physically, and then transfer the files. It feels very old-school when Kindle makes this process instantaneous.

  • Photograph: Amazon

    For Kids

    Amazon Kindle Kids

    You don’t necessarily need a kid-specific e-reader, so you should go with whichever one you can afford. However, if you’re like us and prefer Kindle’s interface and ease of use, the brand has two specific models for tots. Both come with a free cover, a year of Amazon Kids+, and a two-year worry-free warranty—if your kids are particularly accident-prone, you may appreciate this. A parent dashboard lets you adjust age filters and monitor reading progress too. Both come with their internet browsers restricted by default, and you can disable it if you’d like.

    The Paperwhite Kids ($170) is waterproof and has the same adjustable warm light that the standard Paperwhite has—it also gets bright, with 17 LEDs. The newest base Kindle Kids ($120) is $50 less for the same 16 gigabytes of storage, but it isn’t waterproof and doesn’t have adjustable warm light.

  • Photograph: Kobo

    For Heavy Note Taking

    Tablets You Can Write On

    We’ve tried a few e-ink tablets meant for taking “handwritten” notes that can be organized and searched digitally. E-readers with that capability still prioritize reading. If the Kobo Libra Colour isn’t big enough for your note-taking needs, you might prefer these two. The downside is the prices.

    The $340 Kindle Scribe (8/10, WIRED Recommends) and $400 Kobo Elipsa 2E (7/10, WIRED Review) are just plain fun, thanks to the included styluses that allow you to mark up PDFs, create notebooks, and doodle. Both have whopping 10.3-inch screens for easy reading and writing. Kindles generally have nicer interfaces, but Kobo has one big advantage—it lets you mark up books directly, while the Scribe only allows you to make sticky notes.

  • Photograph: Apple 

    You Can Use Your Phone or Tablet

    You Don’t Need Another Screen

    You don’t have to buy a separate device to read ebooks. Smartphones and tablets are perfectly viable for this purpose. You can use Amazon’s Kindle app to read ebooks (iOS, Android), and even download OverDrive’s Libby app (iOS, Android) for library book access anywhere as well. However, the E Ink screens found in e-readers are just plain nicer to look at—there’s no getting around that fact. I also like that these devices are one-trick ponies; there are no notifications to be distracted by or social media feeds to doomscroll through.

    If you’d still rather have one smart device you can read on and use for other purposes, take a look at our Best Tablets and Best iPads guides for recommendations.

  • Photograph: freemixer/Getty Images

    How to Get Ebooks for Free

    Get That Paper

    Ebooks can be cheap, but the cost can add up if you’re rapidly flying through the digital pages. You should take advantage of your library card and check out ebooks instantly from the comfort of your home. We have a detailed guide that explains how to get free library books, but most library branches use OverDrive, often through the Libby app, making it quite simple. These ebooks are automatically removed from your device and returned to the library when they’re due.

    There are a few Kindle-specific ways to get free ebooks too, if that’s the device you end up with. You can subscribe to Kindle Unlimited for $12 a month, which includes millions of titles, including audiobooks and magazines. Amazon’s Prime Reading also offers a handful of free books every month, which is good to know if you already have a Prime account. You can even lend books to friends and family for a short while (or have them share a book with you).

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