The 10 Best E-Readers to Buy in 2018

Shop for the top e-readers from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo

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The Rundown

Our Top Picks

Most Popular: Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (Previous Generation)

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite
Courtesy of Amazon.com
4.4

The Amazon Kindle Paperwhite offers a whopping eight-week battery life on normal use and a reading experience that far exceeds that of a tablet. The latest Kindle Paperwhite matches Amazon’s flagship Kindle Voyage at 300ppi. The black and white screen is noticeably crisper than previous iterations, with a more pronounced contrast, and there’s no glare even under direct sunlight. For late-night reads, turn on the four built-in LED lights.

The new system font Bookerly has been designed from the ground up to reduce eyestrain while allowing for faster reading. This is not merely advertising fodder; the font is legitimately crisp, modern and easy to read. The typesetting engine has also received an update, so there are fewer awkward misplaced letters or words that plagued earlier models.

The relatively plain Kindle Paperwhite can’t compete with the more expensive Kindle Voyage’s design. At nearly half a pound, it is a little on the heavy side, and there’s no microSD slot. However, with 4GB of internal storage there’s enough space to store thousands of books.

The Kindle bookstore is arguably the best online bookstore available, with over four million titles on offer. It’s a little slow to navigate on the Paperwhite itself, but you can always browse the store on a laptop and send the e-book wirelessly to your device. The Kindle Paperwhite, at its lowest price point, has the right to show you advertising for unfettered access to the Amazon network via WiFi. While these ads are unobtrusive, they might deter readers in search of a more traditional experience.

Read more reviews of the best Amazon Kindles available to purchase online.

Best Overall: Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (Newest Generation)

Ever since Amazon first introduced the Kindle Paperwhite back in 2012, it’s had a special place in our hearts. It radically improved on the original Kindle's readability and versatility with an improved screen and backlighting. The newest Kindle Paperwhite continues in the tradition of the first Paperwhite with another round of updates. This model has a six-inch, glare-free screen with five LED lights behind the screen so you can read it anywhere. It’s also super portable at just 6.4 ounces and (finally) waterproof, with an IPX8 rating. That means you can read on the beach or by the pool without worrying about water damage.

The Kindle Paperwhite comes with a few configuration options. You’ll have to choose either 8GB or 32GB of storage, depending on how many books, magazines, comics, and audiobooks you need to store. Secondly, you’ll have to choose between having just Wi-Fi connectivity or Wi-Fi and free cellular connectivity from AT&T. Most people will be fine with just Wi-Fi, but heavy readers may prefer the ability to get more books while on the go. Lastly, you’ll have to choose whether to receive ads on your device or no ads. (Amazon calls ads “Special Offers.”) If you go ad-free, it will cost you $15 more.

Runner-Up, Best Overall: Amazon Kindle Oasis

The Kindle Oasis is the best Amazon e-reader you can buy – even though the price is a bit steep. Rest assured, it’s the “Rolls Royce” of e-readers, with an all-new ergonomic design, dedicated buttons for turning pages and a backlight for reading in the dark. The tapered design is .13” at its slimmest, but it still manages to feel extra sturdy. It’s perfectly balanced for one-hand reading the 7” 300ppi display that offers laser-quality text. It also weighs just 4.6 ounces and is the first Kindle to be waterproof (IPX8) in fresh water for up to 60 minutes. Also new: the ability to listen to audiobooks narrated by your favorite A-list celebrities.

Whether it’s black and white comics or lengthy novels, reading on the display feels far closer to reading a physical book than a smartphone display. It’s that sharp and frankly, that good. Battery life will vary with use, but Amazon claims the Oasis can last up to eight weeks on just 30 minutes of reading per day. The 8GB of memory will hold thousands of books with Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n connectivity. Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited monthly rate offers one million titles on-the-go, and there are over two million titles priced at $9.99 or less.

Best Budget: Barnes and Noble Nook 7"

Noke Tablet 7

 Barnes and Noble

While the Barnes and Noble Nook may not have the prominence of the Amazon Kindle in the e-reading world, it’s worthy of consideration because of two major factors: low prices and many in-store locations in the U.S. where you can get real-life support. The newest Nook 7-inch tablet costs about half the price of a Kindle and offers an extensive ebook library with more than one million titles that cost $5 or less. This base model has 16GB of internal storage, but you can add up to 128GB in additional storage with a microSD card. The Nook also comes pre-installed with the Barnes and Noble Browsery app, where you can discuss your favorite books with their online community and get recommendations for titles you might like. For those that need to take a break from books now and again, you can also access the Google Play store on your Nook and download apps, games, movies, and more. If you prefer a larger screen, Barnes and Noble also offers a 10.1-inch Nook tablet (although that model is more expensive).

Best for Audiobooks: Amazon Fire HD 8 with Alexa

If you want the best of the eBook and tablet world, it’s going to be hard to beat the Amazon Fire HD 8. With an Amazon Prime membership, you’ll have instant access to millions of Kindle eBooks. Individual Kindle titles cost as little as $2.99 a month, but you can also sign up for Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited plan for $9.99 a month to read whatever you want for as long as you renew your subscription.

When it comes to reading on the Fire HD 8, Amazon has done its best to create a comfortable screen experience. The tablet has a specialized Blue Shade feature for backlight optimization that allows for a pleasing nighttime reading experience that doesn’t fatigue the eyes. And when you’re tired of reading, you can instantly switch over to listening mode. Just ask Alexa to read aloud and it’ll take over. With dual stereo mode speakers powered by Dolby Atmos, books sound loud and clear.

When you’re done with books altogether, there’s so much more the Fire HD 8 can do. Stream millions of TV shows or movies with Prime Video, Netflix, HBO, or other favorite services. The Amazon app store offers hundreds of thousands of apps including sports, news, games, weather, and productivity for any kind of content you want.

Best Amazon Tablet: Amazon Fire 7 Tablet

Amazon’s Fire 7 is so much more than just an e-reader – it’s also a full-fledged tablet equipped with Alexa. While you might not need all of its bells and whistles, there are plenty of features that make this device attractive to avid readers.

First off, its gorgeous seven-inch, 1024 x 600 IPS display has high contrast, vivid colors and sharp text to make reading for hours on end comfortable and enjoyable. Secondly, it boasts eight hours of battery life, so you won’t need to charge up between chapters. Thirdly, the Fire OS has an exclusive Blue Shade feature that automatically optimizes backlight for a better reading experience in dim lighting. And last but not least, Family Library links your Amazon account to that of your relatives to let you conveniently share books.

If you’re an on-the-go reader who doesn’t hesitate to toss your e-reader in your tote, you’ll also love the fact that the Fire 7 is highly durable. (It was rated as twice as durable than the iPad mini 4, not to mention, it’s cheaper, too!) For $30 more you can upgrade to the eight-inch Fire tablet, which will score you a larger reading screen and four more hours of battery life, but we find this seven-​incher to be a good balance between function and portability.

Best Apple Tablet: Apple iPad

Apple’s iPad has been a great choice for e-reading for a long time due to its large display and incredible versatility. We've picked the newest version of the iPad with a 9.7-inch screen as the best option. While this is definitely a more expensive option in the e-reader space, you’re getting a full-featured tablet on top of the reading functionalities. The iPad allows you to browse the web, work on projects on the go, draw with the Apple Pencil, play games, and use millions of apps from the App Store. The iPad is also uniquely suited for reading magazines, comic books, and regular books that are full of color (most designated e-readers are black and white). One other reason the iPad is great for e-reading is that you can use various apps for e-reading including Apple Books, Kindle, Bookari, Scribd, Google Play Books, and more, so no matter where you like buying ebooks, you can read them.

Best Waterproof: Kobo Aura H2O Edition 2

While the Kindle Paperwhite is also waterproof, it may not be the best choice if you plan to spend a higher-than-average amount of time at the beach or pool. If you spend a lot of time near the water — for example, if you have a pool in the backyard or live near the beach — you will want to take a close look at the Kobo Aura H2O Edition 2. This e-reader model is built with water in mind and has an IPX8 rating, meaning it's waterproof for up to 60 minutes in up to two meters of water. The Carta E Ink screen is slightly larger than the Kindle’s at 6.8 inches and offers a print-quality experience for enhanced eye comfort during long reading sessions. It’s also easy to hold at just 7.2 ounces. One other thing we love about the Aura H2O is its ComfortLight PRO, which reduces blue light exposure at night and can adjust the screen light quality based on the time of day. You can also customize your own light preferences.

Best for Kids: Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition

In the realm of e-readers specifically meant for children, there isn't much to choose from — designated e-readers are generally made with adult audiences in mind. Fortunately, the Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition is technically a tablet, but it's so versatile that it also makes a great e-reader for kids.

At its core, the Fire HD 8 Kids Edition is a basic Fire HD tablet with an eight-inch display, 32GB of internal storage, a 1.3GHz quad-core processor, and 1.5GB of RAM. It has up to 10 hours of battery life on a single charge, so it can get through a whole day (or two!) without being plugged in. But this model adds a few features specifically for kids, including a blue or pink “kid-proof” case that protects it from drops and a two-year guarantee that it will survive whatever your kids to do it. This tablet also comes with one free year of Amazon FreeTime Unlimited, which gives you access to thousands of kid-friendly books, movies, and TV shows through Amazon. FreeTime Unlimited also gives kids the ability to listen to Audible audiobooks like Beauty and the Beast, The Snow Queen, Peter Pan, and more.

Best for Work: Sony DPT-RP1/B Digital Paper

If you’re looking for an e-reader that is more suited for work tasks — including reading documents, drawing, or taking notes — you need to take a look at the Sony DPT-RP1/B Digital Paper. This device is one of the most interesting products on this list because it is so clearly meant for a future-facing work environment where you read and mark up documents on a single touch-screen reader (and it isn't an Apple, Google, or Amazon product). First and foremost, the Digital Paper is thin and claims to be “as thin as 30 sheets of paper,” so it’s easy to carry around to all your important meetings. The touchscreen, which can be either 10 inches or 13 inches in size, has high contrast and no glare, which means it's easy to read even in direct sunlight. When you pull up documents on the Digital Paper, you can highlight, annotate, or erase on them just like you’d do with physical pen and paper. To transfer documents, you can do so via USB, Wi-Fi, or Bluetooth. In terms of battery life, it can last up to three weeks on a single charge.

Tested by

How We Tested

Our reviewers spent 24 hours testing one of the most popular e-readers available. To really get the full experience, we asked them to consider the most important features when using this e-reader — from its screen type to how durable it is — and we've outlined them here so that you, too, know what to look for when shopping.

What to Look for in an E-Reader

Screen type - Many e-readers, including Amazon’s Kindles, use a technology called E-Ink Carta to mimic paper and not harm your eyes in the same way an LED or LCD display does. For avid readers, it’s definitely the way to go. If you’ll be reading in short spurts, though, an IPS display (which is common on most tablets) is another option. Just be sure to turn on the Blue Shade feature that optimizes backlight for a better reading experience in dim lighting.

Battery life - In general, e-readers have stellar battery lives. Because the screens take up dramatically less power than smartphones or tablets, they can go days or even weeks without a charge. Some Kindles claim a whopping eight weeks of reading time (on 30 minutes of reading per day), so if you’re forgetful when it comes to charging, you’ll be set.

Durability - Planning to read at the beach? You’ll want an e-reader that can survive high tide. Some devices are designed to be waterproof and rated at IPX8, which means they can swim in depths of up to one meter for up to 60 minutes.

Test Results: Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (Best Overall)

4.4

What We Like

  • Long battery life

  • Great screen resolution

  • Lightweight

What We Don't Like

  • Slightly awkward size

Our testers loved this e-reader’s battery life, screen display, touchscreen interactions, store, and Goodreads integration. “All of those make it the best possible Kindle experience,” wrote one reviewer. One downside, according to our testers, was its semi-awkward size. “It's not really necessary to hold it in two hands,” one reviewer said, “but it's also not comfortable to hold in just one.”