The realm of the e-reader has been shrinking over the past few years, not because ebooks are becoming less popular, but because other mobile devices can be used instead. The advent of the online flipbook (more info here) hasn’t helped. That has meant that the industry has shrunk to only a few manufacturers.
Which Features are Important?
Your first step should be to consider what features of an e-reader are important to you. Only once you know what you need, can you determine which of the e-readers will best suit you.
Are you planning on reading e-books from a mix of sources, including self-published or independent book-sellers? You should check on what file formats are accepted by your device then. Memory size (or slots for SD cards) can be important if you like to carry a large number of books and magazines with you, and weight can be vital if you travel. And you can’t forget the price. Not every has the budget for the high-end devices.
Now to look at your main choices. Right now, there are basically two e-reader makes on the market: the Kindle and the Kobo. The Nook is still around but is no longer being made. For the remaining two, they each offer a variety of models, giving you a range of prices, sizes, and other features to choose from.
The Kindle is still king in the e-reader industry, even though it is very closely tied to the MOBI file format that Amazon uses. This is its biggest weakness, and oddly enough it’s biggest strength too. Using the Kindle means you can access the vast catalog of e-books that are published by Amazon but won’t easily be able to read other growing formats like EPUB (though it can be done).
Other than the original Kindle, there is now the Paperwhite, the Voyage and the Oasis (in order of average price tag). Without going into detail on each model, they typically get lighter and have better screen resolution as you move from the Kindle up to the Oasis.
There is also the Kindle Fire, which also has multiple models. While technically still an e-reader, it operates more like a tablet and can handle a number of other functions (video, music, games, Internet browsing). This can be a great choice if you prefer a more functional device.
The Kobo is a Canadian product, and not associated directly with any book-seller. It relies on the EPUB file format, meaning you aren’t able to read books that have been produced with MOBI for the Kindle. So you won’t be reading any books you buy from Amazon, in other words. In time, that may or may not be an issue as more e-book publishers are joining the industry.
The main models of Kobo are the Touch, the Glo, and the Aura (though the Aura has varieties like the Aura ONE and Aura H2O). The cheaper Touch is the intro model and the various Aura styles are their high-end readers. Like with the Kindles, you basically get a lighter device and brighter screens as you move up the line. Some also have additional slots for added memory.