The great thing about e-books is that you can view them on pretty much anything – desktops, laptops, even your mobile phone! Having said that, if you want to get serious about e-books, it’s worth investing in a dedicated device for storing and comfortably viewing your digital library.

The following list of questions should help you to make a more informed decision if and when you decide to purchase an E-reader.

How much are you looking to spend?

E-readers vary a great deal in price range — they can cost as little as $300 or less, or up to $600 and more — essentially the same price as a low-spec laptop or netbook. Your first step should be to think about whether an E-reader is worth investing in. Do you read often? Is portability important to you? If the answer to these questions is no, you may be better off just sticking with a laptop or desktop.

How big/small do you want it to be?

The size of the display will be the primary factor in determining the overall size of the e-reader, so obviously the larger the display, the larger the device will be. Generally, models come in 5, 6, and 8-inch varieties. Weight is another issue that needs to be considered – obviously you don’t want to be lugging a brick around with you!

What types of documents can it read?

There is no set file format for e-books, and not all readers can deal with the full gamut of formats out there. It’s well worth checking out a couple of e-book stores and seeing what formats the titles you’re after come in. You’ll also need to watch out for something called ‘DRM’. Digital Rights Management, or DRM, is essentially a means for authors and publishers to protect their intellectual property through passwords and/or some other form of encryption. Just like formats, there are many different types of DRM systems out there. Before purchasing an E-reader, take careful note of what DRM systems it can deal with.

How much can it store?

The storage capacity on an E-reader determines how many books it can store at any given time. Be sure to select a product that has enough to space to ensure that you can ‘carry’ around a wide variety of titles with you. It’s also worth noting whether the model you’re looking at has a memory card or other expansion slot.

Other things to think about…

  • How do you charge it? Some readers need to be plugged in to an outlet to charge, others require a USB port. The best devices allow for both options.
  • Is it ergonomically designed? Sure, you might like the aesthetics of a certain product, but ask yourself how comfortable it will be to use over the long haul. Are the page turning buttons big enough? Is it comfortable to hold?
  • Is there wireless functionality? The older e-readers can’t access the web wirelessly to grab books. While this isn’t necessarily a deal breaker, it does make things a great deal more convenient.
  • What’s the battery like? What kind of usage can you expect to get out of the battery before it needs recharging? It’s also worthwhile finding out if the battery can be replaced if it dies, or if you’ll need to purchase an entirely new unit.
  • What is the UI (User Interface) like? It’s tempting to pay close attention to the hardware specs on an e-reader whilst completely overlooking the software. Is it easy to get around the system and user friendly? Can you increase/decrease font size and add digital bookmarks easily? If the answer is no, it’s likely to make your reading experience pretty uncomfortable.