eBook Reader Recommendations

(Preface, if I’m blind and there’s already a thread like this, please redirect me and I’ll delete this post.)

TL;DR- What do y’all recommend?

Lately I’m considering picking up an eReader more and more to avoid having a horde of books to carry/ship to wherever I end up moving next. That and being able to carry several books/manga at once while taking up less space (thickness-wise) than a single book.

I see a lot of threads talking about the eBooks themselves and where to buy them, along with mentions here and there about specific readers within various threads, but can’t seem to find any recent topics about the actual readers themselves (as in the hardware). So my questions to those of you with eReaders are these:
What reader do you have?
What are its strong points?
Weak points?
Any features in particular you couldn’t do without?
Features you wish it had?

Preferrably I’d like one with an e-ink display (eg. the Kindle Paperwhite), and either a decent built-in dictionary or the ability to load one in (both J>J and J>E if possible). Otherwise I’m pretty open to what features are available, but obviously ease of access to content would be a huge plus as well.


i use Kindle, i do not know the revision. it has several dictionaries. Just touch the word and dictionary search menu appears. There you can select Wikipedia search. Highlight option is there.
You can send your content with special email address or USB cable. PDF files are not preferred, mobi files and fine.


I personally use a large-screen phone (6.4") as a reader. e-ink is just way too slow and muddy for my liking.

If I wanted a dedicated device, I’d go with an iPad. The benefits are that you get a full featured smart device with a great screen.


I am using my android tablet to read books in japanese. There are a few reasons for that:

  • one device for all purposes
  • all languages in one go (since I have to use different apps for Rus, Eng and Jpn books)
  • easy to work with the vocab files of reading clubs and also easy to connect to good dictionaires such as jisho.

I am not quite sure on what resources allow to purchase Jpn books for free download and reading in the side app. Most cases I know, shop has a special app and reading is restricted to it.

I am using the BookLive app to purchase and read books in Japanese. It has a great variety of material, sales, free reading sections and nice app for reading.
Its downside is straightforward rejection of foreign customers. They even had a warning that they do not guarantee adequate service if you are not from Japan… Had to deal with their support once, and it was far from being “supportive”.

Still I have not yet found a resource that is definitely better than BookLive. Perhaps this thread will point me to a good direction :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:


I use a Kindle Paperwhite and my iPad Air 2 to read, and here’s what I think about them.


Pros - small, compact, very lightweight, connected directly to multiple dictionaries of different languages to look up words, few distractions from reading, screen lighting is easy on the eyes, is readable in sunlight, waterproof, easily browse the (for me, Japanese) Amazon book store

Cons - the whole black-white-black thing between pages is a bit weird to get used to, smaller screen, books must be in a select few formats, if your book is in a particular format the text can be too small and can’t be scaled up easily, a bit of delay in actions like swiping is vaguely frustrating


Pros - bigger screen, easier to read multiple formats of books, easy navigation between pages, often easier to find books between the different apps (but that might just be me), direct connection to public library catalogues

Cons - more distractions from reading, can’t really use in bright light/outside, often no dictionary right in app to look up words, not waterproof for my clumsy self

Both of my devices have heckin storage so that’s not a factor, and I don’t have data plans for either as well. I mainly use the Paperwhite for reading Japanese stuff, and my iPad for everything else because that’s what I’ve had for longer, although that does change while I’m traveling (then I just use the Paperwhite for everything).

If you’re looking for something just for reading, I would highly recommend the Paperwhite. I got the iPad as a grad gift a long time ago, and it’s awesome, but of course it’s a full iPad, so if you don’t need all the extra stuff the Paperwhite is the way to go. (Also, if you’re in the US, keep an eye on Woot.com, sometimes there’s clearance sales on amazon ereaders.)


I have a Kindle Paperwhite (linked to the US Amazon store), an old entry-level Kindle exclusively for Japanese content (linked to the JP Amazon store), and an old iPad Mini with the Kindle and iBooks app. You can switch between Amazon stores on one Kindle, but it’s time consuming and annoying…that’s why I have two.

The Paperwhite is :heart_eyes: I love the screen lighting and the resolution, and it’s as small as a small paperback novel. Kindles have a pretty good JP-EN dictionary, and I think there are JP-only ones too but that’s above my level for now. Also built-in Wikipedia is so helpful for places or cultural references.

The old entry-level Kindle is very similar but has a lower resolution and no screen lighting (the new ones do though). But it’s fine for reading books with actual text (not scans), and most importantly gives me access to the actual file downloads so I can store them in my personal archives (not possible if the account isn’t linked to a physical kindle). Furigana can sometimes be hard to read because of the resolution.

The iPad Mini is still smallish and nicer for reading manga - the images are clearer, slightly bigger, and show in color where applicable. Manga is (usually?) scanned so unfortunately you can’t use built-in dictionaries, whether on an iPad app or a dedicated device… The built-in dictionary is not the same as the ones on dedicated Kindles though, it’s not as good at parsing the text and definitions aren’t as good. This might be different on a newer version of the app though (my iPad is too old to upgrade the app).
The only other app I have installed on it is a bilingual dictionary app, so it’s more like a reader than a tablet.

I have also used and loved a Kobo device, it was very similar to the Paperwhite in quality.


@HotWeather @BigEm @skymaiden
Thanks for your input on Kindles! They sound really nice, and the price-point is very alluring when compared to other options. I’ll definitely be keeping them at the top of my list for now :smile:

@Kawazoe @d-hermit (and BigEm and skymaiden again)
Thanks for the input on using a tablet as well! I actually already have a Microsoft Surface Pro, but its size has been a hindrance in the past when I try to use it for reading. It can also get pretty warm during use and as BigEm mentioned, distractions are another concern for me when using non-dedicated devices for reading. Though I do already carry it around in my backpack, so avoiding adding another device is something I should probably consider.


Anyone have the new oasis? I had the paperwhite and accidentally left it on the plane, so I’m wondering if I should buy a new one or upgrade…

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Koba Forma is really nice, biggest e-reader I’ve seen around. Has a speedy processor making manga support pretty hot. Millions of japanese ebooks on the kobo store too.


I got a Kindle Paperwhite sometime last year after years of using Kindle Fire. The long battery life is the best thing ever! And it’s nice to be able to take it outside. It took a little while to get used to the flashing when turning the page but now I hardly notice it. Browsing the Kindle store on it is not great though. And I wouldn’t recommend it for reading things like manga that have a good deal of art and might be better in color.


To add on to these, I bought my wife a Kobo Forma and she likes it a lot.


Thanks for creating this post! I’m considering going digital with Japanese reading as well, and was ashamed to ask the question given many old dispersed threads on the matter.


Also a big Kindle fan here.
It changed my reading habits in japanese from day one.
No distractions, battery life, waterproof and great for any lighting condition are the biggest pros I can think of. Well that and the dictionaries of course. Not having to look up for things in another place prevents from losing focus.

Not very good for pdfs or manga though. And there’re some lagging issues when battery is almost drained.

Have the Paperwhite, and would totally buy it again.


How difficult is getting books from the Japanese store? I heard you have to fake the address etc.

Also having some trouble finding local retailers that sells kobo products. Seems a lot of stores that had them suddenly don’t.

Kindle is out for me, so regarding Japanese books I guess kobo is the best option.

I asked about the JP Kobo store in another thread the other day and got a great reply: 🐶 わんわん探偵団 🕵 Home Thread - Doggy Detectives! - #31 by ChristopherFritz


I’m using an iPad mini for reading, but researched ebook readers, and the Oasis is what I’m planning to get in the future.

I’ve got a Kobo, I forget which model, though. It was one of the first models with the variable colour temperature backlight. I’ve never tried reading manga on it, only (Western) novels.

One of the reasons I picked it is Amazon (at least in Canada) refuses to license e-books to libraries, whereas Kobo does. They can still only lend out a limited number of copies, so you might still have to wait a while for a popular title, but at least it’s something.


Why out of curiosity? Instead of a kindle paperwhite?

I’ve gotten it a few months ago after several years with a paperwhite. Haven’t used it for Japanese yet, but it is definitely very good for English reading (and I see no reason to think Japanese would be different). The option to change the screen temperature in particular is great for late-night reading and the weight balance allows holding it with one hand comfortable, which may be a huge plus or may not matter to you, depending on how you hold your books.
I personally think it is worth the extra investment if you read a lot, but of course that depends on you and your budget.

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I got a Kindle Voyage a couple of years ago and it completely changed things for me. I was primed to start reading books at that point and probably any e-reader that was any good would have done it, but that doesn’t change the fact that I’m in love with my Voyage (which seems to have many similarities to the Paperwhite in terms of what I like about it, though not everything). If I had kept on trying to read on paper I think I wouldn’t have progressed nearly as quickly, and if I had switched to digital but without e-ink I think my eyes would have really limited how much reading I could do in a day. Strong points for my Voyage: so easy on my eyes in comparison to my other screens (e-ink, plus front-lit), I can read with it in any lighting, including in the glaring sun outside, it is easy to hold and use and I love that I can push to turn the page instead of swiping every time, free dictionaries, including J-J, battery life is wonderful, text size etc is changeable, when I look stuff up the device saves a list that I can export later to put in anki, etc. (This last one is very important to me–while I’m reading I don’t necessarily want to read dictionary definitions for words I don’t know, but just by looking them up they’re saved, so I often just press it and then close it again with hardly any pause in my reading.) Weak points: not waterproof (not that I really care but since that’s a thing for other devices), not great for me personally for manga (my eyes aren’t great so I read manga on my tablet, which is larger), restriction on types of files that work or work well, linking my hobby to Amazon’s whims etc.