Choosing E-Book Readers

It seems that a few years journey of owning e-book readers, which in themselves pretty uncommon in my circle, made me quite the “expert” in the field. Though my expertise definitely amounts to nothing compared to countless others in mobileread, my knowledge is apparently enough to at least give some views to the confusing start on e-book reader world for some of my friends’ question of “which e-book reader shall I buy”. Disclaimer: This is only my view, however, may be different with other people.

The general suggestion is that, if you aren’t reaally short on money, choose one with front light. You aren’t always in places with excellent lighting (time and place for example: at night in the long bus journey to Sahara desert), even in your own room. The light will be really helpful. Usually one with a front light is already a touchscreen, so this shouldn’t be necessary, but a touchscreen is a nice feature to have, but not necessarily so. It’s nice to just touch wherever to change pages instead of only using your right hand (because the page turn button is only on the right side), moreover if you change the screen orientation.

Looking at the UK market, I can find Kindle, Kobo, Nook, a bit of Sony and occasional Icarus & Onyx Boox. Other than those, actually there are a lot of e-book reader brands out there, but I won’t really touch a lot of them (note: Products like Boyue, Pocketbook, Icarus, Onyx Boox, are all nice, actually. I would like to have an Onxyboox MAX (hint hint), but sadly my wallet says otherwise)


Kindle Paperwhite, Kindle Voyage, and Kindle Oasis (

THE e-book reader if you talk about e-book readers with the general public (if I get a pound every time people point to my Kobo and ask,  “Is that a Kindle?” I can buy one more 2nd hand e book I think). Basically, everything’s nice and well, except that it has a locked environment, which basically makes it comparable to Apple in phone/ notebook comparison.

+ Good support. Especially within the US. If you break it and still under warranty, you can get it replaced without any cost (as far as I know, not sure though)
+ Big in the market=more users=a lot of interest, so if you want all the benefits of Kindle but wanting to tinker, you have everything covered. You can check mobileread for a tutorial to jailbreak, add different readers, using one as a secondary screen, etc. (Ít’s actually based on Unix, so…)
+ A lot more options are available. There are versions with 3G, older version with Keyboard (Kindle Keyboard and Kindle DX), older version with audio jack, …
+ 3G version. Very useful if you are stuck somewhere
+ Amazon. Basically the biggest(? I think, but not really sure) e-book seller. You’ll see a lot more English book collection in the store. Also generally lower price.
+ Kindle Unlimited. Actually very good if you want to read whatever. If you’re planning to read certain books though (like, books under The New York Time best-seller list), expect disappointment.
+ The biggest screen possible is 9.7” (though as it’s Kindle DX which is Kindle’s 2nd Gen, expect a lot of flashing and fewer features)
+ Generally more friendly ports. Not really for the faint-hearted, the newer version of Kindle without audio jack can be converted be able to support TTS by buying a suitable converter.
+ A lot of 3rd party support, like send2kindle, IFFT then make Kindle books, etc. (But you need to surrender your information to a 3rd party as well)
+ Sync option. If you like to read on multiple devices you can sync the last page you read across devices
+ More famous brand. Good if you want to resell your Kindle. Also good if you want to buy accessories because a lot of options yo.
More famous brand. Bad if you want to buy 2nd hand (or bid in an e-bay auction)
Closed environment. You don’t like Apple and its locked environment? If yes, there is a huge chance that you’re not into Kindle as well. If you don’t plan to tinker with your Kindle, expect to only buy your books in Amazon, have your right to read an e-book evoked (though this is very rarely), and be reaally really friendly with Calibre to convert all your other formats to mobi (or HTML… or PDF… or txt).
Less overdrive support. Sadly outside of the US most library only provides epub books to borrow. You need “effort”.
You need to pay more for no ads version
No micro-SD support. ‘s alright if you plan to only read e-books or always connected, but can be a deal breaker if you read a lot of PDFs or manga or not always connected
Rather US-centric. Pretty good if you live in the US but a lot of perks can’t be experienced by non-Americans.

Suggestion: Just go for PW 2 or PW 3.


Usually people’s 2nd option. Not a household name like Kindle but apparently the No. 1 brand in Canada (whisper: my 1st option though. Larger screen but cheaper ver., please.)

+ Good support for multiple file extensions such as epub, mobi, chm, PDF, etc.. Also supports cbz! (heaven for manga and graphic comics!)
+ Tinker-able. You can also make an Android e-reader out of a Kobo. (Ít’s actually also based on Unix, so…)
+ Pretty large user base. You can do more tinkering even without knowing a lot about programming by following a lot of tutorials
+ Fewer options than Kindle but there are exciting nonetheless. You have a waterproof choice of Aura H20 which is nice. Larger screen Aura HD in 6.8” help if you want more screen real estate.
+ Micro-SD support. So that you can put your entire library into a Kobo. Sadly more recent version deletes this so take notice.
+ 6 inches is not small enough for you, you can try 5” Kobo Mini
+ Good support for Library Books/ Overdrive. If your primary reading option is library books. Kobo Aura One has a dedicated Overdrive app as well if I’m not wrong.
+ Pocket. This is a very very helpful to me as I am a Pocket user.
+ Generally cheaper compared to Kindle with similar specs
Fewer books in the store compared to Amazon.
Pretty clunky UI. Not everyone’s a fan.
Not exactly famous for its stellar customer support
No audio jack. If you like TTS, you can’t have any other option.

Suggestion: Go for Kobo Aura (no dust-trapping screen) or Kobo Glo (changeable memory). Kobo Aura One for native Overdrive support.


Nook Simple Touch and Nook Simple Touch with Glowlight (

Nook Glowlight Plus vs the Nook Glowlight ( (Are you confused enough now? I know, Nook has a weird naming system)

Tied with  bookstore Barnes & Nobles

+ Support epub, PDB, and pdf.
+ Tinker-able. I saw an Android tablet out of Nook
+ Micro-SD support. ‘s alright if you plan to only read e-books or always connected, but can be a deal breaker if you read a lot of PDFs or manga or not always connected
+ Waterproof version available in Glowlight Plus
+ Generally cheaper
Support is already down, although I saw some Barnes & Nobles (in the US) still selling them
Seems like I saw a lot of second hand with single pixels problem
Fewer options. Generally, you can have a Nook Simple Touch and Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight (whichever version) which actually are enough, but if you want anything more maybe not Nook.
No audio jack. If you like TTS, you can’t have any other option.

Suggestion: Go for Simple Touch with Glowlight or Glowlight


As a previous Sony owner, I need to put one or two sentences for Sony

+ I don’t know whether it’s my bias speaking but a lot of people like its hardware and its built.
+ 13.3 version for a serious user.
+ Android for T1-T3. Out of the box. You can install some apps by yourself, but the Android version is rather ancient so only some apps can be installed
+ Pen support for T1-T3.
+ Audio jack until T1. Can be used for both music and TTS.
No front light. Sadly Sony doesn’t plan to continue targeting customer market anymore after T3.
No newer version. If you really want a Sony, outside of the 13.3 versions you’ll have to accept a 2013-2014 (without front light even!) technology

Suggestion: Either T1 or T2.

Android-Based Reader (Onyxboox, Icarus, Boyue, etc.) (Lumped together just because)

Recently got to play around with Android-Based Reader

+ Android! Means you can install reading apps, overdrive, kindle, kobo, FBReader, Mantano, ACV, Pocket, RSS Readers. You can even play games! The Android version is at most 4.4 though.
+ A lot more variants. Most are the same hardware (like from Boyue), but with closer service centre and personalised apps. For OnyxBoox and Pocketbook, you also have a lot more sizes, 8.6″, 9.7″, 13″, you name it.
+ Usually have a headphone jack and micro SD slot
+ Micro-USB can also support OTG
Battery. Generally only last for a few days. Even less when you connect to wi-fi. Weeks of non-Android based readers seem like a lifetime
  The language barrier and unusable apps. Some are produced for Chinese/ German/ insert country market only, there are no English-language support/ dictionary, and some has English but imperfectly translated. Sometimes there are market apps accessible only in that country and ended up unusable.

Suggestion: Read everything thoroughly before buying

Verdict: If you don’t really want to tweak you e-book reader, go for Kindle. A bit inconvenient but otherwise serviceable.

OK, I think that’s it so far. Will add more things I remember. Hopefully, that helped me to explain to my friends about plus-es and minus-es of e-book reader brands (read this, friend), and maybe help you as well?

IDK why I now seem like an e-ink preacher, not sponsored, honest! (won’t reject offers if any though)


About Ky

Currently Indonesian university student trying to submit more useful contents to share one's limited knowledge. Rather has wide, shallow interests, the writings will be as sporadic as it can be. Should write more scientific and field related topics, but writing muse says otherwise. Expect more on technical related writings especially softwares and apps, cultures, music, and random things.

Posted on March 23, 2017, in Plugging, Reading and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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