How to choose the right e-book reader for you

Travel light. Ditch hefty paperbacks and take an e-reader instead. From reasonably priced tablets to one you can read in the dark – or in the bath, here is what to look for in an e-reader.

Woman reading an e-book on the beach.
  • Mark Gambino
  • February 2020

These handy devices, which let you carry thousands of electronically copied books anywhere you go for a fraction of the space (and weight) of physical books, have been a game changer – especially for travel.

How to choose an e-book reader

Many models have a simple black and white LCD screen but not all are backlit to allow use in the dark, so you’ll need an external light source for reading those thrillers late at night. Colour screen models are backlit like tablets and smartphones.

Woman reading an e-book on an Amazon Kindle in the bath.
Some e-book readers are backlit, so you can read in low light.

With a touchscreen model you can flip pages and navigate menus with the tap of a finger, while some e-book readers may only feature buttons for interaction. Standard devices allow you to change the font and size of letters for easier viewing; some offer a highlight feature, enabling you to mark up text or look up the meanings of words.

Check battery life before you buy, as it varies.

You’ll need a wireless data connection to purchase content. Once downloaded, media will stay saved until you delete it. Memory for e-book readers ranges from 2GB to 32GB – which means anything from hundreds to tens of thousands of books.

The 3 best e-books to try...

The Lenovo Tab E7 e-book reader.
The Lenovo Tab E7 is a great basic tablet PC.

1. Lenovo Tab E7, $99 AUD

If you are looking for a cheap ebook reader, the Lenovo Tab E7 opens in new window is a basic tablet PC but it becomes a lightweight library when used with e-book reader apps. There’s 16GB of memory to store content and you can add up to 128GB extra space with an SD expansion card.

Kindle Oasis e-book reader.
The Kindle Oasis lets you adjust the warmth of the backlighting.

2. Kindle Oasis, $399 AUD

To read in the dark, the Kindle Oasis opens in new window gadget has an adjustable backlit display that you can make warmer or cooler to suit the time of day. The seven-inch waterproof device is also available with 32GB of memory.

Kobo Forma e-book reader.
The Kobo Forma automatically adjusts the backlighting.

3. Kobo Forma, $429.95 AUD

The large, 8-inch screen of the Kobo Forma opens in new window can be held with one hand and light intensity is automatically adjusted so the device won’t keep you awake after use at night. You can also connect to eligible local libraries to borrow books without needing to purchase.