The 9 Best E-Readers of 2021

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

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

The Rundown
"Featuring an eight-week battery life."
"The newest line of Kindle now has a built-in front light."
"Super portable at just 6.4 ounces and (finally) waterproof, with an IPX8 rating."
Best for Audiobooks:
Amazon Fire HD 8 Tablet at Amazon
"When you’re tired of reading, it can instantly switch over to listening mode."
"Helps you disconnect from tech by providing access to millions of books in an amazingly book-like package."
Best Amazon Tablet:
Amazon Fire 7 at Amazon
"More than just an e-reader, it’s also a full-fledged tablet equipped with Alexa."
"Waterproof, rated to IPX8, making it useful for the pool, bath, or beach."
Runner-up, Best Overall:
Kobo Clara HD at Walmart
"If you’re a frequent library user, all Kobo e-readers are great choices for you."
Best Large-screen E-reader:
Kobo Forma at Walmart
"The Forma is Kobo’s premium e-reader, designed to compete with the Kindle Oasis."

The best e-readers allow you to view any book in your collection with ease. E-readers simplify novels. With an e-reader, you never have to guess which page you're on! You can also store all of your books in one compact device, you can read in any type of lighting environment, and more! E-readers are also a great option for kids to explore.

You know you have a favorable quality e-reader when there is an immense amount of storage space available and long-lasting battery life. Our top pick is the Amazon Kindle 2019 from Amazon. This lightweight Kindle is affordable, supplies 4GB of storage, and has a battery that takes a while to deplete. It is a perfect model for reading while on the go or at home. Owning one of the best e-readers is a must for any avid reader.

Most Popular: Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (7th Generation)

Kindle Paperwhite
What We Like
  • Long battery life, glare-free, and a typeset designed to reduce eyestrain make this a great all-round choice

  • Kindle has access to one of the largest e-reader bookstores, giving millions of choices

  • Affordable

What We Don't Like
  • No microSD slot

  • Heavier than some of its competitors

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 Wi-Fi. While these ads are unobtrusive, they might deter readers in search of a more traditional experience.

Best Overall: Amazon Kindle 2019

Kindle (2019)
What We Like
  • Affordable and portable e-reader, offering a front light, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth connectivity

  • Supports audiobooks

  • Great value for money, it’s lightweight, easy to use, and offer 4GB built-in storage

What We Don't Like
  • Not waterproof

  • Lower resolution than the Paperwhite

The Amazon Kindle has become a force in the portable electronics space—not because it has the flashiness of an iPad or the versatility of a flagship smartphone. It claims market share because the screen very closely approximates what it’s like to read an actual book. The newest 2019 version brings a lot of specs to the table.

First off, Amazon has included a brand-new front light that allows you to read in the dark, something that was previously only available on the more expensive Kindle Paperwhite. You’ll also get a decently crisp 167 PPI resolution, so not only can you read in the dark, but it’ll look really close to words on an actual page.

There’s 4GB of storage built in which is enough storage for thousands of books. It connects via Wi-Fi and even offers Bluetooth connectivity so you can listen to audiobooks as well as read. The battery is big enough to provide around four weeks of reading time, depending on things like light usage and how long you spend actually reading in a given session. Plus at only 0.34 inches thick, weighing only 6.1 ounces, and for a really affordable price, it is supremely portable, perfect for tossing into your beach or travel bag.

Best Waterproof: Amazon Kindle Paperwhite 2018

Kindle Paperwhite (2018)
What We Like
  • Waterproof design is lightweight

  • Glare-free screen

What We Don't Like
  • The ad-free version is more expensive

  • USB charger not included

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.

Best for Audiobooks: Amazon Fire HD 8 Tablet

All-New Fire HD 8 Tablet
What We Like
  • Alexa connectivity is handy for audiobooks and other apps

  • Access to the Kindle Unlimited Plan

What We Don't Like
  • Battery life could be longer

  • User interface is a bit slow

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 over millions of 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 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 Splurge: Amazon Kindle Oasis 2019

What We Like
  • Realistically imitates the look and feel of a physical book

  • Sturdy, ergonomic design

  • Waterproof

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Charging time could be quicker

The Amazon Kindle Oasis 2019 aims to be the most advanced "dumb" electronic you can find. Rather than trying to compete in a crowded field of multitasking smart devices, it instead helps you disconnect from tech by providing access to millions of books in an amazingly book-like package. 

Continuing the same trend Kindles have been following for a while, the 2019 Oasis, with storage of either 8GB or 32GB, aims to recreate the feeling of reading a physical text with a comfortable, ergonomic design, page turn buttons, and new e-ink technology. The 7-inch, 300 PPI Paperwhite display’s shade is adjustable for all lighting conditions. Night mode automatically tints the screen amber for midnight reading. Its waterproof IPX8 rating means it can survive a spill in the tub or pool, and you can enjoy Audible books by streaming through Bluetooth-enabled devices.

Best Amazon Tablet: Amazon Fire 7 Tablet

What We Like
  • Excellent 1024 x 600 IPS display

  • Family Library lets you link friends and family to share books

What We Don't Like
  • The interface contains ads

  • Works best if you have an Amazon Prime membership

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 Design: Kobo Libra H20

Kobo Libra H2O
What We Like
  • Ergonomically friendly

  • Anti-glare, 7” screen

What We Don't Like
  • Asymmetrical, plastic design may not appeal to everyone

  • Bluetooth might be useful

We like the Kobo Libra H20 for its unique, asymmetrical design, which can be used in either landscape or vertical orientation. It’s a quality, easy to use e-reader with both form and function. Users will appreciate the page-turn buttons, high-resolution display, and the choice of a black or white color scheme. Pages turn quickly, and the interface is easy to learn and use. Like all Kobo tablets, you’ve got access to OverDrive, allowing you to borrow ebooks from your participating library.

With a slightly larger screen size of 7”, it uses Kobo’s Comfortlight PRO to adjust to all lighting conditions, reduce glare, and is designed not to interfere with your circadian rhythm. It’s also waterproof, rated to IPX8, making it useful for the pool, bath, or beach. Wi-Fi is also built-in, although it’s lacking Bluetooth, ad 8GB of included storage is enough to store close to 3,000 ebooks. For something a bit different, or if you love reading in landscape mode, consider the Libra H20.

Runner-up, Best Overall: Kobo Clara HD

kobo-clara
What We Like
  • Affordable and lightweight e-reader, free of ads

  • Built-in access to OverDrive, allowing you to use your local library membership to borrow books via your e-reader

What We Don't Like
  • Not waterproof

  • Isn’t compatible with audiobooks

The impressive Kobo e-readers are giving Kindle a run for their money- we love the Clara HD for its affordable price point, quality build, and great lighting. The Clara HD’s Comfortlight PRO lighting system uses eight white LED lights and seven oranges, which work to create the perfect lighting, based on time of day. The high-resolution, six-inch screen is also easy to read at night or in low light, thanks to Comfortlight PRO.

If you’re a frequent library user, all Kobo e-readers are great choices for you. They have built-in access to OverDrive. As long as your library uses that system, you can log in to your account and borrow books to read on your tablet, just as you would at the local library. Frequent readers will love this, and it saves money from constantly buying new titles.

While the device is slightly let down by its lack of waterproofing and incompatibility with audiobooks, the Clara HD is overall a top choice and a great alternative to the main competitors in the field.

Best Large-screen E-reader: Kobo Forma

Kobo Forma
What We Like
  • Generous 8” screen

  • Waterproof

  • Vibrant, clear display

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Low storage capacity

The Kobo Forma impresses with its large, spacious screen, offering 8” of reading pleasure. If you’ve been put off from trying an e-reader by screen size, consider the Forma. It’s also waterproof, a useful feature, and is comfortable to hold and read, thanks to its clear and vibrant screen. Like the Libra H20, it can be used in landscape or portrait mode.

The Forma is Kobo’s premium e-reader, designed to compete with the Kindle Oasis. Although it’s the most expensive of Kobo’s products, the Forma is a top choice for its large screen, along with access to OverDrive and Pocket, which allows you to save articles to read later.

Ambient light or low light is no problem, thanks to the automatic light adjustments made by the Comfortlight PRO. While it’s unfortunate that the Forma can’t cater to audiobooks, if you don’t need this feature, it’s an amazing premium e-reader that’s worth the higher price.

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.

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