What is e-book reading

E-books: Would you rather read on a reader or smartphone / tablet?

Stiftung Warentest on e-book readers
Image: dpa Anyone entering the world of e-books should position themselves right away. It starts with choosing one of two incompatible formats. Because the e-book world is divided into Kindle books, which only Amazon offers, and Epub books, which all others have on offer.

Amazon's Kindle e-books and readers offer readers a lot of convenience, but at the same time they seal them off, judges the Stiftung Warentest in its latest reader test ("test" edition 5/2020). Further disadvantages of this "golden cage": Matching e-books can almost only be found on Amazon, copy-protected titles cannot be passed on and e-books cannot be borrowed from libraries.

More freedom in the epub reading world

Stiftung Warentest on e-book readers
Image: dpa The Epub reading world of Tolino, Pocketbook or Kobo, on the other hand, offers significantly more freedom. Users can buy from a wide variety of booksellers, who now mostly pass on e-books protected by watermarks in small groups and borrow them in libraries (online loan), explain the product testers.

Anyone who opts for a dedicated e-book reader will receive light and handy devices that can be easily read outside and in the sun. They offer long battery runtimes, useful additional functions related to reading and a high level of reading comfort. "These devices allow you to concentrate fully on the book," say the experts.

Apps good for little readers or for trying out

However, the reader displays currently only offer gray levels and are only suitable for reading. Smartphones and tablets with their color displays and their basic variety of uses are more broadly positioned. And important for casual readers or anyone who wants to try out e-books in all directions first: Of course, the reading apps from both camps can be installed and used in parallel.

But mobile devices also have their disadvantages: In addition to a significantly shorter runtime, these include the poor readability of the displays in the sun, at least the higher weight of tablets, and the permanent distraction from other installed apps or incoming messages.

All readers did well

Buyers can't go terribly wrong with current readers. All nine readers performed overall "good" and even the reading apps from Tolino and Kindle received a "satisfactory" rating.

The reader test winner was the large Tolino Epos 2 (overall grade 1.6), which was also the most expensive reader in the comparison for just under 300 euros. The two price-performance tips from the product testers did little worse, the pocketbook Touch HD 3 (overall rating 1.7), which costs around 160 euros, and the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite 2018 (overall rating 1.8) for around 140 euros.

In December, the ECJ decided whether an e-book, like a printed book, could be sold on the Internet as a used copy.