Where eReaders Are Better

 · shakiestnerd
Table of contents

The big reason to use an eReader is portability. eReaders let you carry a bunch of books around in a very small package. It sure beats a backpack full of books.

For my use case, the smaller size eReaders (6"-7") hit the sweet spot between price and portability. Once you get bigger than that, they are harder to carry and the price is infringing on tablet prices. So, at that point, you might as well carry a tablet with eReader software installed on it.

The second situation where eReaders shine is the ability to read outside. Reading the E Ink screen outside in bright sunlight is a joy. I also like to read in bed without disturbing my wife. eReaders are a situational choice over alternative ways of reading which include a book, tablet, or cell phone.

So, here is a little use case chart with my opinion on reading choices in various situations.

Challenge Book eReader Tablet Cell Phone
Sunny location
Damp / Wet
Multiple books

Sunny Location

Phones and tablets are difficult to read in direct sunlight. If you like to read outdoors by the pool, while grilling, or in a comfortable lawn chair on a beautiful afternoon, eReaders are a great choice.

Damp / Wet Area

Many eReaders are, at a minimum, water resistant. If you like to read by the pool, on the porch on a rainy day, or some other wet area, an eReader is the best bet. If that is a common use case for you, make sure the specifications spell out how much moisture it can take.

Dark / Low Light

Yes, you can read a book with a book light. But it is a hassle to juggle the light and the book. Tablets and phone screens work well in low light situations. Many eReaders are backlit and have a dark mode to limit illumination so you don't disturb a sleeping partner.

Waiting Area

If you stand in line, sit in a waiting room or other situations where you wait, then eReaders work well. It certainly helps pass the time when you're stuck waiting in line at the pharmacist or grocers. I also hope it sends a message that they need to open up another register.

Multiple books

eReaders let you carry many books in one small footprint. Switch between books when you're not in the mood for one of them.


Having a tablet or cell phone in my hand is too tempting to switch to checking email or some other activity. Since a book or an eReader only support reading; they don't have that distraction factor.


eReader decisions are situational. If I only read at home, I would just stick to books and use a little book light if I wanted to read while my wife sleeps. But, being able to carry it around easily and salvage reading time while I'm out of the house is the real use case for me.