EBRs beyond Amazon: January 2016

EBRs beyond Amazon: January 2016

When the Amazon Kindle was first introduced in November of 2007, there were already more than ten devices dedicated to reading e-books in the US market…it’s just that none of them were doing much here. 🙂 Even Sony, which was a powerhouse in the consumer electronics market, had them…and that included with a non-backlit screen.

Amazon revolutionized the market with their $400 device…having an E Ink screen was important, but there were really two other things which moved it from a techie, niche device to a more mainstream one (at least among readers).

One was the ability to wirelessly download books. Having to cable your device to a computer to get a book was a considerable hurdle to many people.

The other one was…that it was Amazon. 🙂 Now, there was intense skepticism among tech writers that Amazon could successfully introduced hardware, but there wasn’t any skepticism among readers that Amazon could sell them books.

Before the Kindle, the e-book market was techies.

With the Kindle, the e-book market was readers.

Over time, I’ve written about a number of non-Amazon devices…and they aren’t all still around.

I leave the links on the website, even though some of them don’t go anywhere, partially to preserve the list historically. For those of you using screen readers, and even those without, I know it can be difficult to click on a broken link. I’ll go through and re-label those or do something with them to explain the situation.

Here are the links (again, some of these may not go anywhere):

So, in the USA, for non-backlit EBRs (which is part of how I define an EBR now), it’s largely the Kindle, the nook, and the Kobos.

Part of that may be that people have transitioned reading e-books to tablets…you can get a tablet cheaper than an EBR, and have color, text-to-speech, audiobooks, and animation (for enhanced e-books). The sight-reading experience for me is better on a non-backlit device (I usually read on two different ones a day), but because of text-to-speech, I’d say most of my reading is on my now discontinued Kindle Fire HDX. That’s not just because of using TTS…since that’s my device that does TTS and I usually use that for hours every weekday, it’s the device I carry with me. When I do sight-read at work, it’s on my Kindle Fire.

Okay, let’s take a look at what is available currently (not used or refurbished) from those three companies.


I read on a Paperwhite and a Voyage (two different rooms), and like them both.

The basic Kindle above doesn’t have a light.

The Voyage has a different way to change pages than the Paperwhite.

We may get a new model or more from Amazon this year…I’ve predicted they’ll do a “waterproof” one.


  • Kobo Touch 2.0 $89.99
  • Kobo Glo HD $129.99
  • Kobo Aura H20 $189.99

Kobos are seen as being quality devices, and I would consider them perhaps the strongest competitor (going into the future) for the Kindle.

Their Touch is $10 more than the basic Kindle (which also has touch), and the Glo is $10 more than the Paperwhite.

The H20, though, is $10 less than the Voyage…and it is “waterproof”.

Also, those prices are compared to the lowest Kindle prices…and some people don’t want to see ads on their devices in order to get them initially at a discount. If you don’t want the ads, the Kobos are cheaper.


  • NOOK (they have been inconsistent on capitalization) GlowLight Plus $129.99

Frontlit, touchscreen, waterproof, and it does DRM ePUB (Digital Rights Management protected) which the Kindles don’t.

So, what would I recommend?

First, I wouldn’t go with the nook, unless you are already heavily invested in nook books. I just don’t think you can count on the company’s future, especially with regard to EBRs. The company name might be around for a long time, and the nook name may be on tablets, but I think it’s a risk. Also, right from the beginning, the customer service for the devices has been markedly superior (both in execution and policies) for the Kindle over the nook. If you already have nooks and want to stay with this, this is a good model with some nice features.

The Kobos are, from what I understand (I’ve never owned one), good devices and their owners like them. I think Kobo is a much more stable company than Barnes & Noble (looking at EBRs for the latter for sure). I don’t think this is a bad choice, but…

I’d go with the Kindles. Again, Amazon’s Customer Service is great on these, and they fit pretty nicely into the Amazon ecosystem, which you may be using for other things. I also like them as devices. 🙂 For most people, I would go with the Paperwhite. Having the light (it’s a frontlight, not a backlight) is really worth it over the least expensive model. The Voyage is a bit nicer, and there’s nothing wrong with going for that. Again, for most people, though, I think they’ll see the Paperwhite as a better value.

If I look at this again two years from now, I’m not convinced we’ll have the nook (it should survive this holiday season, but might be eliminated in 2017), but I do think we’ll have the Kindles and the Kobos. I don’t see somebody else getting into the market right at this point, although that might happen if reflective screen technology gets a lot cheaper. We may also still see some sort of “dualume” screens, that have both reflective and backlit screens, or reflective screens may add color and/or animation as their technology improves.

What do you think? Did/do you own a non-Kindle EBR? How do you feel about it? Have I left off an EBR in the USA? Am I underestimating Barnes & Noble’s future involvement with EBRs? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.


10 Responses to “EBRs beyond Amazon: January 2016”

  1. Bonzi Says:

    There is at least one other manufacturer left: https://onyx-boox.com/
    They even make a 9.7″ reader using Carta imaging film.

    The fact that Good e-Reader’s Michael Kozlowski’s Indiegogo campaign to fund an “ultimate e-ink reader” (very similar to the current crop of front-lit 6″ devices, plus SD slot and open android) failed pretty abysmally is not a good sign for new entrants: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-ultimate-e-reader#/

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Bonzi!

      I appreciate you listing that!

      That one is intended for the European market, although I notice that they do say they ship worldwide. There are definitely other regional EBRs.

      You can see some other options here:


      Kozlowski’s site is great! I have linked to articles in this blog. Tough for anybody to get an EBR started, as you note. I don’t think a lot of people believe there is a ton more room in the market…and people aren’t very likely to switch unless it can read their current books. If Kozlowski’s proposed device can install the Kindle app, that would help it…but would someone who has a lot of Kindle books would tend to go with a Kindle branded device as well, I think.

  2. Phink Says:

    KOBO did something very interesting recently. They released an e-reader with 4 GB of internal storage…….but…….it’s not really internal storage. Someone took the back off to find a simple 4 GB SD card with no other storage at all. They tried to transfer all it’s data to other SD cards but it never booted up. Therefore, it’s still not expandable memory but it’s still interesting. Perhaps this was cheaper. Here is a video if you want to watch it to confirm what I said. Also, I have said it before. Oh how I wish Kobo would work with my Amazon books. Amazon really needs 20 plus font sizes like the Kobo has.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Phink!

      So, the 4GB card included the operating system? Generally, at least in the past, Amazon would report the memory including what was used up by the OS, and then let us know what could be used by users. That hasn’t been the case all the time, though.

  3. Edward Boyhan Says:

    I’m not sure that the Fire HDX’s are totally discontinued. True they no longer appear on the top banner, but both the fire HDX (64GB) and the Fire HDX 7″ are still for sale (new) from Amazon. If you click on the link “See the full Fire Family”, the HDX’s are still listed. By the HDX 8.9 it comments “our most powerful tablet ever”.

    Of course they could just be selling down inventory 😀 (we’d never know). I own the Fire 8.9″ 64 GB, and I would never consider buying any of the other current Fires. BTW it seems to me that the current price for the Fire HDX 8.9 is higher than when I bought it.

    I suspect that the days of eink EBRs are coming to a close (unless something unexpected comes out of LiquaVista).

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Edward!

      My Kindle Fire HDX 7″ (which is a 3rd generation) is discontinued.

      There was a 4th generation Fire HDX (not Kindle Fire HDX…just Fire). While that one does not appear in the “family stripe” any more, it is still available new, as you note. That’s the one that shows when you click or tap on that “Fire family” link.

      The difference isn’t just in screen size…

      I don’t think reflective screen EBRs are going away soon…I would expect Amazon to continue to offer one for…oh, I’ll say at least five years. It distinguishes them in a special way as a book company…and I think the market is still there. I also see Kobo staying with it for some time.

      Eventually, I’m still figuring on either dualume devices, or greatly improved reflective screens (not necessary from the E Ink brand, as you also note).

    • Phink Says:

      I also do not believe EBR’s are going anywhere for some time. The day will surely come when they are no longer available but I agree with Bufo, it will be a while. I just think too many people prefer those to tablets. The only time I read on a Fire tablet is when I am doing what Amazon calls Immersion Reading, which is by far my favorite way to read. If the EBR could do this I’d have no use for the Fire except as a digital cookbook.

      Speaking of that. I have an old Fire who’s only job is to sit in a kitchen drawer waiting for me to prepare a meal. I turned it into a digital cookbook a year or so ago and I love it. If you have an old Fire this is a great idea. Or any tablet I guess for that matter. I use Cook’n software and I like it because it’s easy to import recipe’s once you get through the learning curve of how to import them plus you can sync across all your devices. Just a thought for others that might be interested in such a thing.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Phink!

        One tip for you: if you have the Amazon Origami cover, it’s quite a strong magnet..you can stick it on your fridge while you are cooking! I sometimes stick it on filing cabinets at work.

  4. regina saunders Says:

    some time ago i did subscribe to ebooks but have laps in conection
    I membershipwish to renew my but so far unsucsessful

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