10 Reasons Why You Should Buy an E-Reader for School

We'll help you decide whether you should get an e-reader for school

September usually means a rush to stock up on school supplies—everything from binders and highlighters to textbooks and designer jeans. In recent years, computers, laptops, and e-readers have been added to the mix. If you're not sure if dropping up to $300 on a tablet or e-reader is worth the investment, here are 10 reasons why a Kindle, NOOK, or other e-reader may be worth considering.

A woman reads on a kindle e-reader.
Kris Ubach and Quim Roser
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Carrying just three textbooks in a backpack can be a 15-pound burden, one that gets pretty old by the end of a long day. Even a laptop can weigh up to five pounds. Choosing an e-reader for your texts means lightening that load to considerably less than a pound. Some you can even fit in your pocket. As an added bonus, with your library in your pocket, you can kiss goodbye the old college standby of bookshelves made from planks and cinder blocks.

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Hardware Cost

A multipurpose device like an iPad may make a decent e-book reader, so long as you don't use it outdoors or under reflective lights, but the cheapest iPad starts at over $300. Most top-selling e-readers are priced under $150, and you can pick up a budget Kindle for just $80.

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Save Money on Books

We looked over a random Grade 12 English class reading list, pulled six required novels and plugged them into Amazon. To buy printed versions (paperback where available) would have cost $69.07. Buying the Kindle versions, meanwhile, came out to $23.73. Mileage will vary depending on the subject and titles in question, but e-books tend to be cheaper than printed versions. For some students, the e-reader may literally pay for itself.

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Surveys have shown that e-reader owners tend to read more than they did before taking the plunge. The convenience of having a wide variety of e-books in their pocket is a big reason why. Students who carry an e-reader have the opportunity to easily catch a few minutes of reading while riding transit or taking a break between classes. And with an e-reader, you're not limited to the one or two textbooks that happen to be in your backpack. It goes without saying: When it comes to school, reading more is definitely a good thing.

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Highlight at Will

With traditional paper textbooks, many students are reluctant to make notes or highlight passages for fear of ruining a book's resell value. If you make a note, then change your mind, those scribblings can also become a real clutter. Most e-readers offer the ability to highlight text and make notes without worrying about permanently vandalizing the e-book.

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Free Email

You can't do this with every e-reader, but the truly budget-conscious will appreciate the fact that it's possible to send and receive email for free—without a Wi-Fi connection if you invest in an Amazon Kindle Paperwhite or Kindle Oasis, both of which offer cellular wireless connectivity.

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Get Social

E-reader manufacturers are increasingly adding social media functions to their offerings. Kobo has Reading Life, for example, while Barnes & Noble offers NOOK Friends. Using these tools, you can engage in conversations about e-books, share thoughts, make recommendations. In some cases, you can even lend or borrow titles. It's a lot easier than trying to round up a group of people for a study session.

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Skip the Bookstore Lineups

Most e-readers are available with Wi-Fi connectivity. That means that, while other students are undergoing the annual ritual of standing in line for hours at a time with armloads of texts, you can effortlessly shop online and have your purchases instantly show up on your e-reader.

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Library Schmibrary

Libraries are continually growing their e-book collections. If you'd rather relax at home than make the trip to borrow a book, an e-reader lets you pick up many titles for two weeks without spending a dime or leaving the dorm. Better yet, there's no trudging back to the library to return borrowed books, no late fees, and copies are pristine. Amazon's Kindle has been shut out of this feature for the past few years but has since joined the party.

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Battery Life

We all know that students are notoriously forgetful. Most e-readers can go a month without recharging. Some, such as the Nook Simple Touch, can last up to two months. That means that, unlike a tablet or laptop, there's little need to remember to charge your device every night—let alone having to remember where you last put the charger or USB cable.