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The best gifts for readers in 2019

Save a tree: Read an ebook!

This story is part of Holiday Gift Guide 2019, your source for the season's best gifts and deals, hand-picked by the experts at CNET.

Forget video games, 4K movies and streaming music. This holiday season, give the gift of an ebook reader. There are so many good choices, including the Amazon Kindle, the Amazon Fire Tablet and the iPad Mini, that you're sure to find the perfect one for your recipient.

First, these ebook readers and ebooks make for great gifts (or even a handy stocking stuffer). The recipient will be all set, even without any of the accessories, like a bookshelf or bookplates (a good book nook is still recommended). Ebook readers will look beautiful on their coffee table or bedside table, regardless.

Second, anyone who receives a book or an ebook reader as a gift is going to be vocally appreciative, as no one wants to be pegged as "not a book person." Plus, they'll have to read the book eventually, right? Win, win. It'll be one of the best products you've ever purchased.

Yes, the Kobo reader and Barnes & Noble Nook are still out there, but without access to Amazon's book library, and hazy future hardware and software support, it's tough to make a case for reading on those. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

If you're looking for a Kindle to leave in the seat back pocket of an airplane (when you take a break from reading your book to "rest your eyes"), this is the one to get, just because it's so inexpensive. The latest version of this ebook reader gets an updated body and includes a built-in book light (you know, so you don't have to wear a book light on your head when you're up late with coffee or tea), but the better screen and higher resolution on the Paperwhite still beat it by a mile and make it a book reader's favorite. You'll fall into a new world, like Alice in Wonderland. Just don't read aloud if you're up late! Read our Amazon Kindle (2019) review.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Although it hasn't changed much in the last few years, the Paperwhite is still the default Kindle to gift the book enthusiast in your life. It's readable, the backlight makes it great for reading a book by your favorite author in both dark and sunny situations -- plus, it's often discounted, which means more money toward your book budget... which means more reading! Perfect! Read our Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (2018) review.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Amazon's top-end Kindle is is too expensive for what it is. But at the same time, it's an extraordinary upgrade from reading on the standard Paperwhite. I upgraded during this summer's Prime Day, and was knocked out by how much better the Oasis is in terms of book readability and responsiveness. Plus, the physical page turn buttons make you feel like you're reading a real chapter book. Amazon runs a lot of deals on this, and watch out for trade-in bonuses on older Kindles to get it for a reasonable price.  Read our Amazon Kindle Oasis (2019) review.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Amazon's Fire tablets no longer have "Kindle" in the name, but they still work great as e-readers. The Fire 7 is usually $39, which is less than an expensive hardcover book (but not really powerful enough to be your everyday multimedia tablet). For book reading, just note that it's not an E-ink screen, just a plain old LCD. But, on the other hand, it's in color, so it's perfect for reading a story with pictures, like a graphic novel or an illustrated book.  

Besides the 7-inch model, also check out the 8-inch Fire HD 8 and the iPad-like Fire HD 10Read our Amazon Fire 7 (2019) review.

Óscar Gutiérrez/CNET

The best iPad for ebooks is the pocket-sized, and recently revamped, iPad Mini. The size and weight are perfect (smaller than a book, even), and besides reading your favorite book, you can do all the other great things you can do with an iPad. Again, this isn't an E-ink display, so it's not perfect for book reading, but it's a great all-in-one device.  Read more.

What about actual titles?

And to fill up that Kindle, Fire tablet or iPad, of course you'll need a great book or twelve. A book subscription is a perfect gift (with monthly options curated for your recipient) and beyond that, we've included a book selection list. The ideas on this list represent some of what we've been reading lately (plus select picks from the well-known authors who've graced our CNET Book Club podcast).

Remember, there's a whole world of books out there, from Pride and Prejudice to A Game of Thrones (or the whole A Song of Ice and Fire series in a box set), from banned books to chapter book series. You can even gift a subscription to The New York Times, if you want to think outside the box when it comes to reading material! And no, whether you pick up a digital book or a physical dead-tree book, we don't judge. It's your story. Reading is a joy, so it's still the perfect gift.

Now get cozy, put on the coffee (or tea) and get reading!

Book #1: Fall, or Dodge in Hell by Neal Stephenson
Interview: Neal Stephenson explores the long, weird future


Book #2: Recursion by Blake Crouch 
Interview: Blake Crouch messes with your memories


Book #3: Giraffes On Horseback Salad by Josh Frank
Interview: Josh Frank on bringing the Marx Brothers and Salvador Dalí together


Book #4: Team Human by Douglass Rushkoff
Interview: Douglas Rushkoff on why we all need to join Team Human


Book #5: Futureland by Walter Mosley
Interview: Walter Mosley on his new book set in modern-day Brooklyn, as well as his genre-bending sci-fi


Book #6: Dead Astronauts by Jeff VanderMeer
Interview: Jeff VanderMeer on the eco-apocalypse