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Article updated on January 1, 2024 at 7:40 AM PST

Best E-Reader for 2024

The best ebook readers enhance your reading experience and cut down on clutter, and we can help you choose the right one for your needs.

Our Experts

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Written by 
David Carnoy
Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Reviews ethics statement
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David Carnoy Executive Editor / Reviews
Executive Editor David Carnoy has been a leading member of CNET's Reviews team since 2000. He covers the gamut of gadgets and is a notable reviewer of mobile accessories and portable audio products, including headphones and speakers. He's also an e-reader and e-publishing expert as well as the author of the novels Knife Music, The Big Exit and Lucidity. All the titles are available as Kindle, iBooks, Nook e-books and audiobooks.
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What to consider

Amazon or not?

Budget

Waterproofing

Screen quality

Physical buttons

Our Picks

$100 at Amazon
A side view of the Kindle 2022 in dark blue, against a green background
Best-value e-reader
Amazon Kindle (2022)
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$140 at Best Buy
kindle-paperwhite-2021-city-backdrop
Best all-around e-reader
Kindle Paperwhite (2021)
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$340 at Amazon
The Kindle Scribe and a stylus on a blue background
Best jumbo e-reader you can draw on
Amazon Kindle Scribe
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$140 at Kobo
The Kobo Clara 2E is full waterproof
Best value non-Amazon e-reader
Kobo Clara 2E
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$116 at Amazon
Amazon Kindle Oasis 2019
Best premium e-reader
Kindle Oasis
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$175 at Walmart
kobo-libra-2-black.png
Best non-Amazon e-reader
Kobo Libra 2
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$400 at Walmart
The Kobo Elipsa 2E is slightly upgraded from the original
Best non-Amazon tablet e-reader
Kobo Elipsa 2E
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What's the best e-reader overall?

The list below is mostly populated by Amazon Kindle e-reader devices, including the entry-level Kindle, the Kindle Paperwhite and the Kindle Oasis, because I believe Amazon still has the best digital "ecosystem" for ebooks. The Paperwhite is our Editors' Choice in the category, and when it goes on sale, it's the best e-reader for the money. That said, Amazon has improved its entry-level Kindle to the point where it's a good choice for a lot of people. Though Barnes & Noble still makes its Nook e-reader, if you want to steer clear of Amazon products, I'd suggest opting for a Kobo model.

I've been reviewing e-readers since the 2007 when the first Kindle was released. Unlike smartphones and tablets, which have screens that can get washed out in direct sunlight, most e-readers use E Ink, a super energy efficient monochromatic display technology that's designed to resemble printed paper. E Ink has some inherent latency issues, but over the years, e-readers have become zippier and more durable, adding improved lighting schemes, touchscreen interfaces and full waterproofing with some models, including the Kindle Paperwhite. Larger format e-readers like the Kindle Scribe also come with an accompanying stylus for note-taking.

Read moreHow to Get Free E-Books From Your Local Library

Best e-readers of 2024

$100 at Amazon

Best-value e-reader

Amazon Kindle (2022)

Amazon has released a new baseline Kindle E Ink e-reader for $100 that no longer seems so entry-level. While its 6-inch screen makes it a smaller and lighter e-reader than the step-up Kindle Paperwhite ($140), its display has the same 300-ppi resolution as the Paperwhite. However, that step-up model adds waterproofing and incorporates a more sophisticated front lighting scheme, with 17 LEDs compared to the Kindle 2022's four.

In the past, we've recommended stepping up to the Paperwhite if you could afford it, mainly because it had a higher resolution display than the entry-level Kindle, which allowed text to appear more crisp. But with both models now featuring similar displays (at least as far as resolution goes), we may have to revise that recommendation.

$140 at Best Buy

Best all-around e-reader

Kindle Paperwhite (2021)

With Amazon upgrading the Kindle 2022's display resolution to match the Paperwhite's, it's become a significantly more appealing entry-level e-reader -- the gap between the two models has narrowed. That said, the Paperwhite does feel more premium and durable, and has a handful of key extra features: a bigger screen, waterproofing and a more sophisticated and adjustable lighting scheme. It's our CNET Editors' Choice Award winner in the e-reader category. 

Note that the step-up model, the Paperwhite Signature Edition, adds wireless charging and additional storage -- 32GB instead of 8GB -- as well an auto-adjusting light sensor for $190. A Kids Edition is also available. As with previous Kindle models, expect the Paperwhite to go on sale sporadically throughout the year. It should cost around $100 during sales.

$340 at Amazon

Best jumbo e-reader you can draw on

Amazon Kindle Scribe

A handful of competing stylus-equipped touchscreen E Ink e-readers that double as digital notepads are available from other companies, including Kobo and ReMarkable. But the Kindle Scribe is the only front-lit 10.2-inch E Ink e-reader with a high-resolution 300 ppi (pixels per inch) E Ink display.

The Scribe's size and weight make it more of a burden to carry around, especially when you consider the smaller baseline Kindle can fit into a coat pocket. But in all, the Scribe strikes a very good balance between a large-format e-reader and an E Ink note-taking tablet. Folks will probably have some quibbles about the Scribe's high price and the robustness of its mark-up and note-taking capabilities, although Amazon continues to improve its functionality and feature set with firmware upgrades.

$140 at Kobo

Best value non-Amazon e-reader

Kobo Clara 2E

If you can't afford the larger Kobo Libra 2, the Kobo Clara 2E costs significantly less and delivers good bang for the buck. It has a 6-inch E Ink Carta 1200 touchscreen with 1448 x 1072 resolution (300 PPI), is powered by a 1GHz processor and comes with 16GB of storage. It's also fully waterproof with an IPX8 rating, which means it can be fully submerged in up to 2 meters of water for up to 60 minutes. With the waterproofing, this fells like an enhanced version of Amazon's entry-level Kindle, which is not fully waterproof (but the Kindle Paperwhite is). 

$116 at Amazon

Best premium e-reader

Kindle Oasis

Amazon's top-of-the-line E Ink e-reader was slightly updated in 2019, but this Kindle e-reader device is basically identical to the previous Kindle Oasis except for one key difference: It has a new color-adjustable integrated light that allows you to customize the color tone from cool to warm, depending on whether you're reading during the day or at night. You can also schedule the screen warmth to update automatically with sunrise and sunset -- not unlike Night Shift mode on Apple devices.

At $250 for the basic configuration, the Oasis is expensive for an e-reader. Most people will be happy with the more affordable Paperwhite for their Kindle ebook reading, but if you want the best of the best with an anti-glare screen for your reading experience -- and don't mind paying a premium for it -- the Oasis is arguably the one. The Kobo Sage, which lists for $270, has an 8-inch screen, bigger than the Oasis' 7-incher. 

$175 at Walmart

Best non-Amazon e-reader

Kobo Libra 2

Rakuten makes a line of Kobo e-readers that are not only powered by the Kobo store but also support 14 file and ebook formats natively (EPUB, EPUB3, PDF, MOBI, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, TIFF, TXT, HTML, RTF, CBZ and CBR). In other words, if you get your ebooks -- or any other digital documents -- from any place besides Amazon, this device is a Kindle alternative that will probably read them. The Kobo device has its own ebook store with thousands of books, and it has built-in support for checking out ebooks from local libraries via the OverDrive service. (You can get library books onto Kindles via OverDrive's Libby app, but it's not as smooth a process.)

The Kobo Libra 2, which retails for $190, sits in the middle of the line and, like its predecessor, the Libra H20, is fully waterproof. It has a 7-inch, 1,680x1,264-pixel resolution, E Ink display, a built-in light, 32GB of storage and no ads (you have to pay $20 to remove them from Kindle devices). 

Available in black or white, you can use the Kobo Libra in portrait or landscape mode. Other Kobo e-reader devices include the entry-level Kobo Nia ($110) and the flagship Kobo e-reader, the Kobo Sage ($270), which has a larger 8-inch high-resolution screen.

$400 at Walmart

Best non-Amazon tablet e-reader

Kobo Elipsa 2E

I used Kobo's original jumbo e-reader, the 10.3-inch Elipsa, and now Kobo has a new, slightly upgraded version of that model called the Elipsa 2E. The previous model came with a cover and stylus as part of an Elipsa Pack (you can still buy it for $350), but now you get the new Stylus 2 and have to buy a cover separately.

The screen is pretty sharp and easy to read with an E Ink Carta 1200 touchscreen that has 1,404x1,872 resolution (227 ppi) and a dark mode. The Kindle Scribe has a sharper 300 ppi screen.

You get Kobo's upgraded ComfortLight Pro with adjustable brightness and color temperature and an upgraded 2GHz quad-core processor (instead of 1.8GHz) with 32GB of storage. Even with the slight speed boost, an E Ink device like this still feels relatively sluggish compared to an iPad (using an Apple Pencil). But the performance is decent enough and battery life remains a big strong point for E Ink devices -- like other e-readers, the Elipsa's battery life is rated in weeks rather than hours. The Elipsa supports 15 file formats natively (EPUB, EPUB3, FlePub, PDF, MOBI, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, TIFF, TXT, HTML, RTF, CBZ, CBR). 

It weighs in at 13.5 ounces, plus the cover (if you purchase it) adds additional weight, making this a pretty heavy e-reader. However, you can use the case to prop up the e-reader so you don't have to hold it while reading, taking notes or reviewing and marking up documents. Big e-readers aren't for everybody, but if you like to see a lot of words on a page or bump up the font size, this Kobo e-reader is an appealing option. They're also good for looking at PDF files.

Other e-readers we tested

Kobo Sage: With a larger 8-inch high-resolution screen, the Kobo Sage is the bigger sister to Kobo's Libra 2. It represents a good option for someone who wants a larger e-reader but doesn't want to go up to a jumbo tablet-sized e-reader. However, it's a little too pricey at around $270. 

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Factors to consider when buying an e-reader

Amazon or not?

The big question for a lot of folks is simply whether to go with an Amazon e-reader -- and Amazon's ebook ecosystem -- or not. Amazon does dominate the e-reading market but there are alternatives, including Kobo, Barnes & Noble and other "open" e-readers that allow you to important both DRM (copy protected) and DRM-free file formats. Amazon does now let you send DRM-free ePub files to its Kindle e-readers

Budget

Naturally, you'll want to figure out how much you're willing to spend on a new e-reader. Amazon's entry-level Kindle is the most affordable with a list price of $100 (the price has dipped to as low as $75 during flash sales). Larger format e-readers like the Kindle Scribe are closer to $400. 

Screen size

Some people are fine with smaller e-readers with 6-inch screens but others prefer a little bit larger screen (the Kindle Paperwhite has a 6.8-inch screen). You can also step up to a jumbo model with a 10.3-inch screen if you want a more tablet like experience, but the bigger e-readers do weigh more.

Waterproofing

If you plan on using your e-reader in the tub, around the pool or at the beach (or any body of water), you may want to consider getting a model that is rated as being fully waterproof (it can actually be submerged in water and survive).

Lighting scheme

Some of the more advanced lighting schemes feature more LED lights and the ability to adjust both brightness and color temperature. 

Screen resolution and pixel density

Even entry-level e-readers now come with so-called "HD" E Ink displays so you don't have to worry so much about having a crisp enough screen with sharp text. The key spec to look for is pixel density. 300 ppi (pixels per inch) is what you ideally want though some larger displays don't offer that.

Physical page-turn buttons

Most e-readers now have touchscreens, so you you can turn pages by simply touching or swiping the screen. However, some e-readers do have physical buttons that you can press to turn pages. Some people like having those physical page-turn buttons.

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How we test e-readers

We test e-readers based on four key criteria: designperformancefeatures and value
Design: We assess the look and feel of the device along with its build quality and ergonomics. We also note if the e-reader has physical page-turn buttons and whether it's made out premium materials such as aluminum and what the texture of its finish. Screen resolution and pixel density (how crisp text appears on the screen) also goes into the design evaluation. And if the e-reader is rated as being waterproof, we fully submerge the e-reader to confirm that. 
Performance: Performance not only includes how zippy/responsive the e-reader is but how often the screen flashes to prevent ghosting of text and images (every so often the display essentially resets itself to wipe away any E Ink artifacts so to speak). We also take a look at the quality of the integrated light and how uniformly the light splays across the display. With e-readers that include support for a stylus, we check how much latency there is when using the stylus. And while we don't try to get exact battery life numbers (because e-readers are often rated for having weeks of battery life), we do use the e-reader for several days, first with WiFi on and then with WiFi off.
Features: Most e-readers have a baseline set of features, but some have added features that we take into consideration. 
Value: We determine value after considering the strength of the e-reader against all these criteria and what it's able to deliver compared to other e-readers. 

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Best e-readers FAQ

What's the advantage of having a dedicated e-reader?

Sure, you can read an ebook on your phone or tablet (there are plenty of ebook apps, including Amazon Kindle, iBooks and Kobo), but it can be hard to read on a phone or tablet screen in direct sunlight and you also can get distracted by incoming emails, texts and variation notifications. Using a dedicated e-reader is more like reading a printed book. E-readers also have great battery life. 

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Can I get library ebooks on my e-reader?

Yes, you can set up an account with your library on read library books on your e-reader for free. However, note that there's often a wait time for popular ebooks at your local library. 

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Do e-readers have a web browser?

Yes, some do, including all Kindles. But you don't really want to use the built-in web browser because it's such a sluggish and underwhelming experience thanks to the sluggish nature of E Ink. The main use of the web browser is so you can get onto a public WiFi network (or a hotel WiFi network) that requires some sign-in process through the Internet. 

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Can I get other file formats on an e-reader?

Yes, most e-readers are compatible with a variety of file formats, including PDF and Word files as well as some image files (though the images will only be shown in monochrome, not color). You can also read digital comic books, though, again, they will not appear in color. 

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Is it easy to crack an e-reader's screen?

E-readers that are waterproof tend to have an extra layer over the display that provides some protection, making you less likely to crack the screen. However, you can indeed damage your screen if you drop your e-reader. You can buy a protective cover that will greatly reduce the probability of your e-reader getting damaged but it does add a little weight to the e-reader. 

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How much storage should get?

Since ebook files are small, even 8GB of storage allows you to store hundreds if not thousands of ebooks on your device. That said, even the entry-level Kindle now comes with 16GB of storage, which is more than enough. Larger format e-readers tend to come with 32GB of storage because people tend to load up those devices with larger files (PDFs and whatnot) that use up more storage space.  

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