Buy An eReader & Save Money On Books Comments45 Comments

If you read books in your spare time, you would be well aware of how expensive books are and how the cost really adds up over time. Until recently, the main ways to save money on books were to buy second hand, borrow from libraries or borrow from friends. Beyond that you were pretty much out of luck.

Now the new trend in saving money on books is purchasing an eReader. Not only do eReaders save you money on books, but they are also much more portable and lightweight. In fact, you can carry around your entire book collection with ease. There is a small investment upfront, but then the more books you read, the more you save. You can even get a lot of ebooks completely free.

While I have only had direct experience with the older Kindle model and the Kobo, I have done some research to help you choose an affordable eReader. If you are considering buying an eReader, I highly recommend it. Before making the purchase, read my comparison research below. Please note: these are entry level eReaders. If you want features such as a color screen or audio playback, be prepared to spend about $200. Or you can get a full tablet computer for $300+.

Amazon Kindle eReader

Amazon Kindle 4

The Kindle has been the leader in the eReader market ever since they released their first Kindle model. Between that original model and the Kindle 4, they have made a lot of improvements. They’ve made it lighter, smaller and faster. To do that they did remove extra features such as audio capability, but most people would not be looking for those kind of features in an entry level eReader.

The majority of people gave this eReader 5 star ratings. One complaint was the ads included, but that is only in the discounted $79 version and not in the $109 version. The lack of a touchscreen may be annoying if you need to type much. Overall it is a great choice.

Price: $109 US from Amazon
Weight: 5.98 ounces (170 grams)
Dimensions: 6.5″ x 4.5″ x 0.34″ (166mm x 114mm x 8.7mm)


Kobo eReader

Kobo eReader

The Kobo eReader is backed by Indigo Books/Chapters, but it falls short of the Kindle & NOOK in both performance and functionality. Between these 3 eReaders, the Kobo is the largest, the heaviest and the most expensive. The difference in these factors is quite minute though. The screen contrast is weak as there are only 8 shades of grey instead of 16. There have been numerous complaints about their customer service too.

Long term, the Kobo is actually likely to save you the most money. This is because it comes stocked with 100 free classics and there are 1.8M free ebooks in the Kobo Store. The price did recently drop from $139.99. So if long term savings is important to you and can live without extra features, you may be happy with the Kobo. Personally I would still opt for the Kindle or NOOK though.

Price: $109.99 US from Kobo.com
Weight: 7.8 ounces (221 grams)
Dimensions: 7.2″ x 4.7″ x 0.4″ (184mm x 120mm x 10mm)


Nook eReader

NOOK Simple Touch

It looks like they designed this eReader to compete with and beat the Kindle. While the Kindle does have a touch screen version, it is $40 more expensive than the NOOK Simple Touch. Price isn’t the only area where the NOOK outdoes other entry level eReaders. It claims to be 25% faster than any other eReader. Based on other reviews, it sounds like the navigation and page turning are very well thought out. The design of this eReader was clearly focused on delivering a superior reading experience. The only real drawback is the lack of extra apps or a web browser, but in an eReader that isn’t really necessary. Who would want to browse the web in black and white?

Before starting this comparison, I really expected the Kindle to be the best as it has long been the most popular eReader. I was pleasantly surprised with what others are saying about the NOOK. Most are claiming it is the best budget eReader. The only area where it may be lacking compared to the Kindle 4 is storage space, but do you really need 500+ books on hand? If that is an issue, you can store extra books on a memory card.

Price: $99 US from Barnes & Noble
Weight: 7.48 ounces (212 grams)
Dimensions: 6.5″ x 5″ x 0.47″ (166mm x 127mm x 12mm)

Conclusion

Some people may still prefer the look and feel of a physical book, but the cost savings may change your mind. You don’t necessarily need to invest in a fancy tablet computer, especially if you would primarily use it for book reading. Take a closer look at the eReader models above to see if one if right for you. If I were choosing, I’d probably choose the NOOK Simple Touch. I will keep that in mind for when I finally get through the paperback I’m currently reading.

Do you already own an eReader? If so, which model do you own? Are you satisfied with it? Please share your personal experiences to help others with their decision.

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By : Jeremy Biberdorf | 15 Feb 2012
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45 thoughts on “Buy An eReader & Save Money On Books

  1. James Petzke

    Great post, I’ve been considering buying an ereader lately myself. One that I would also suggest is the Kindle Fire, that thing is basically a full on Android tablet for only $200.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      They are quite convenient compared to lugging around a book. And yeah, the Kindle Fire does look like a good option. I considered including it in this review, but decided to focus on the lower priced options instead. It would be a good choice for someone who wants basic tablet functionality and a color screen. It might not be as good to use as just an eReader though as it is heavier than the entry level eReaders.

      Reply
  2. Miss T @ Prairie Eco-Thrifter

    I have thought about one of these but my eyes get tired reading on a screen all of the time. I have to do it so much for work. It is actually refreshing to actually read paper. I should still look into them though. Like you said, they save money and are greener.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      I think a lot of people have that assumption about reading on paper vs on a eReader. With the style of display they use, it might not actually be a problem. Most basic eReaders do not have a lit LCD display. Instead most use something called E Ink display that is pretty close to reading a book and not so hard on the eyes compared to a computer screen.

      Reply
    2. Edward Antrobus

      Jeremy is right. E-ink works the same fundamental way that real ink does. They are tiny bead that are white on one side and black on the other. When a charge is applied to a bead, the black side is shown, creating a tiny dot. It is lot illuminated, like a LCD, but reflects or absorbs light emitted from other sources, just like ink on paper. I have an older SONY Reader, and in the sun it looks EXACTLY like paper. In the sun, I can’t even see the screen on my cell-phone!

      Reply
  3. MoneySmartGuides

    I’m one of those that prefer the physical book. But there are many in my office that rely on the Kindle. One money saving tip: you can get books from Amazon for your Kindle for free through your library. One woman in my office has read over 30 books and has paid for 1 book.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      Apparently most eReaders are able to download free books from the library which is great. I do find it amusing that they usually word it as ‘borrowing’ books from the library. I’m not sure how they expect you to return it.

      Reply
      1. Edward Antrobus

        The files have a timer. Depending on the length of the borrowing period (14 and 21 days are most popular), you can open the file until the timer expires. After that, your reader will be unable to open it.

        Reply
  4. Kris @ Simple Island Living

    I have a Nook Tablet that my husband bought me for Christmas. (I think he was tired of me stealing his iPad…) He bought me the Tablet to upgrade from the normal Nook (which is a wonderful ereader. I completely and totally recommend it.) because it allowed me to browse the web, etc. But for a basic reader I love the basic Nook. It is so incredibly wonderful how you can borrow books from the library and download them directly to a small device. This is the only use I get out of it – obviously there are some books that we want physical copies of, but for the easy readers, the library is a great place to go. Plus, you can borrow up to 25 titles at a time! Amazing.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      When I was reviewing these basic models, it did seem like the Nook was the best option out there. I wonder how it keeps track of how many books you’ve ‘borrowed’ from the library. Personally I’d be more leaning towards a full tablet to be able to browse the web. For someone who would mostly just using it to read, the basic models are probably better since they are lighter and more portable. The more features you want, the bulkier it gets.

      Reply
      1. Kris @ Simple Island Living

        The library keeps track of that, not the Nook. Just FYI. :) The beauty of it is that if you have library accounts at multiple libraries (I lived in Seattle and still have my Seattle library card), you can borrow the max from every library. If you need to, but if you can read 50+ books in 21 days…that’s pretty good!

        Reply
  5. Daisy

    I have a Kindle and I adore it! I never thought I’d like an eReader, but my mom got me one for Christmas and i’m hooked. It doesn’t have a backlight, which is great, plus the books are like $5 each (compared to $20). They’re so flexible and easy to carry, too. I’m a big ereader advocate.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      It seems like a lot of people think they are anti-eReader until they actually try one. eReader manufacturers must be missing out on a huge demographic. I guess they are thinking that all those people will eventually see someone else’s eReader or get convinced by someone else. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an eReader commercial anyway.

      Reply
  6. Money Infant

    I probably should get an eReader because books (in English) are so difficult to find here in Thailand. I’ve just been holding off because I love the feel of a real paper book. And I’m kinda too busy to read more than I already do (online). Maybe I’ll drop a hint to Mrs. Infant for next years Christmas present.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      I actually don’t have an eReader yet either, but people I know that have one really like it. I might want one eventually. I’m like you though, I just do most of my reading online. Reading books on the side takes up a lot of time. It’s great to have for traveling though.

      Reply
  7. Nick

    For some reason, I’ve just been using physical books or free ebooks on a kindle app on my iphone. I keep getting close to buy an ereader or tablet but then back (READ: cheapen) out at the last minute.

    Reply
      1. Nick

        Yeah, it’s not that great, but it’s OK. I get to say “I’ve read 400 pages today” … little do they know there are about nine words per page…

        Reply
  8. Jon Rhodes

    Nice post. I have been considering buying an e reader of some sort for my wife. She has stacks of books everywhere. I managed to get her to donate some, but there’s still loads. Maybe if I buy her one of these she’ll be persuaded to donate some more! Loads of books can take up so much room, and this seems like a great alternative.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      My ex is the same way. She had a hard time getting rid of any of the books she had collected. They were becoming a waste of space since she was never going to reread them. Once she got a kindle, it’s been much easier to convince her to donate those.

      Reply
  9. bax

    Interesting, I’ve been using the library, and only going to Amazon for the things my library can’t get, but I should look at ebooks too.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      If you are fine going to the library, you might not really need an eReader. It is much more convenient to carry around though. Plus you can get new books downloaded without leaving the house. It’s something to consider if you do spend much money on books.

      Reply
  10. Brent Pittman

    I’ve had a kindle for the last year and I’ve read quite a few more books due to it. Very easy and portable. Tons of free books to boot. With libraries budgets growing for E-books, you could literally never have to pay for a book again (if you’re a fast reader).

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      Thanks for dropping my blog Brent. So does that mean that you truly do have to ‘return’ the library ebooks after the 21 day period? Or can you just borrow it again once that time is up?

      Reply
  11. Sire

    The Kindle Fire would also be my choice. Sure you have to pay a few dollars extra but I always look at the features and if they’re worth the extra bucks.

    Great review Jeremy.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      Thanks for checking out my blog Sire. The Kindle Fire does seem like a great choice if you can invest more money. I would just be worried about the extra features adding too much weight and size. Also I might not have much patience if things like the web browser weren’t up to par with what is on my laptop.

      Reply
    2. Well Heeled Blog

      If your primary goal is to read, I prefer the Kindle Touch over the Kindle Fire (I actually got a Kindle Fire first, then returned it and bought the Kindle Touch). The Touch is much lighter and longer-lasting, while the Fire’s LCD screen strains my eyes.

      Reply
  12. Well Heeled Blog

    I have a Kindle Touch – it’s GREAT for plane rides. But for books that I can’t check out of the library and that I’d have to buy, the physical versions are usually MUCH cheaper than ebooks. My fiance has filled up my Kindle with free books and checkouts.. but he did once buy me a 99 cent romance ebook. It was so bad that I couldn’t finish it!

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      I assume you meant ‘much more expensive’. Not surprising the 99 cent romance ebook was horrible. At a price that low you’ve got to be expecting something pretty bad.

      Reply
  13. Edward Antrobus

    One that you forgot is Sony. The newest one, the Reader Wi-Fi is $130 and roughly the same size and weight of the Kindle (slightly slimmer bezel).

    Personally, I find the weight argument a non-issue. I have an older reader, Sony’s first-gen of their current line. It weighs in at 9oz, so 50% heavier than the Kindle, plus I’ve got a leather cover for it. All told, about 3/4lb. But, really, the sleeves of my coat weigh more than that!

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      Good point about the weight. The difference in weight from all of these models is minute. I think the bigger difference comes in when the eReader has extra features like a color screen, web browser, mp3 player, etc. Then it’s inevitable that it will weigh more. If you’re used to reading big novels, any eReader is still much lighter. I really like Sony electronics, but figured it was best to focus on the cheapest models since it was about saving money too.

      Reply
      1. Edward Antrobus

        I would have thought that the Reader Wi-Fi was in the same entry-level price range. That’s why I suggested it.

        I am really happy that the price point has dropped so much. When I bought mine used a couple years ago, prices for new e-readers started at $200

        Reply
        1. Jeremy

          Yep, the prices have come down massively since eReaders were first introduced a few years back. It’ll be interesting to see what happens with the pricing and product quality in the next few years as eReader popularity gains more momentum.

          Reply
    1. Jeremy

      For sure, taking them traveling seems to be one of the biggest perks. When you’re struggling to fit everything into your luggage, do you really want to take up valuable space with a bulky book?

      Reply
  14. The First Million is the Hardest

    I have a kindle fire and love it. I know someone already mentioned being able to get ebooks from a library. But amazon will also has a large selection of free books & will offer more popular titles for free from time to time. I haven’t had to pay for a book yet! :)

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      The free books part sounds great. Since I don’t read a whole lot, there’s bound to be plenty of great free books available. How is the kindle fire on the eyes after lots of reading? I’d be worried about a color screen making my eyes sore like after a long session on the computer.

      Reply
  15. Peter

    I actually won a Kindle Fire in a blog contest back when the tablet was launched, and I’m loving it so far. It is a great little multi-functional device that’s great for surfing the web, playing the occasional game, or reading a book. Reading e-books isn’t it’s forte though – as some mentioned above your eyes an get a bit tired from reading the backlit screen.

    I also have a Kindle Keyboard that I bought a couple years ago. I love it and think it’s great for reading e-books – almost like reading a regular book – but better. :)

    I wrote a review a while back of the Kindle Fire, not sure if you allow links, if not feel free to delete : Kindle Fire

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      Thanks for your feedback about your Kindle experiences. I have no problem with the occasional relevant link…and no that doesn’t include the people who have been asking to do guest posts to link to their debt consolidation sites.

      Reply
  16. Zack Jones

    Moving to eReaders was one of the smarter moves we have made. I primarily use a Kindle Fire and my wife reads stuff on the iPad. As a side benefit we’ve been able to sell over $60 worth of books that used to be sitting on the shelf collecting dust. I love having everything from novels to financial to photography to computer geek books all on that one little device.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      Good point about being able to sell off books you do have. If you have popular books in good condition, it is quite easy to sell them back to a bookstore. It’s nice to free up that extra clutter too.

      Reply

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