Choosing an Ereader

Kindle, Nook and Kobo Touch
by Ellis Hamburger [source]

If you want to buy an e-reader in Germany, you are up for some hard decisions as the local industry has not quite jumped on the train yet. If you look for opinions on the web, you will find mostly US-based reviews. Over there, people talk—besides tablets—mostly about Barnes & Noble’s Nook and Amazon’s Kindle. As Nook is not available in Germany at all and Kindle only in old versions1 and for much more money than in the US2, what to do3?

Meet Kobo Touch! Reviews place it closely to both Nook and Kindle and it can be bought for 129€ from a major German electronics chain. If you think that is expensive, keep in mind that even the cheaper Kindles (which do not have touch displays) are only cheaper because you are exposed to advertisements; Kobo is ad-free, as far as I know. So, Kobo’s technology is about as good as the main competitor’s but it is

  • available,
  • affordable and,
  • supports EPUB and some other less-popular formats.

Especially the last item is ignored by many US reviewers, much to my surprise. It appears to me that people over there are content to bind themselves to the store their eReader connects to4; not me. You can read any e-book on a Kobo, and that is a big plus.

Besides, I have major issues with Amazon trying to establish a monopoly using DRM and a format almost no one else uses5. Once you’ve bought a Kindle and some books for it, you are pretty much stuck.

  1. For instance, neither Kindle Touch nor DX are available on
  2. At the time of this writing, the basic Kindle costs 80$ in the US but 99€ (over 125$) in Germany.
  3. One should note that a major book chain seels the Oyo e-reader in Europe. I have tried it; it is an inferior device compared to the ones discussed above but costs more.
  4. I call it the iTunes-effect; it has also happened to the software market for (smart)phones and tablets since.
  5. Note that Kobo can read MOBI, if apparently not perfectly.


  1. I suggest taking a look at the Sony PRS-T1. It might be a little more expensive, but it’s a very nice device, it reads EPUB (mostly) without problems (after upgrading the firmware, that is), and since it runs Android, there may or be some potential for cool extra software on the device. The only thing it lacks are thumb navigation buttons on the sides of the device (like the Kindle or Oyo have), but by now I pretty much got used to flipping pages with the touch screen or the buttons on the bottom.

  2. Huh, I disliked every Sony I tried so far. Not sure wether I tried this particular model. Android may be a plus.

    Anyway, I have bought a Kobo last week; review coming up next week.

  3. I agree with eBrnd, the Sony PRS-T1 is a very nice device. Don’t let previous Sony eReaders put you off, this model is far better than older Sony models and much more affordable.

    If you can wait there is a new Nook coming out with Glowlight. Basically this has a built in light that illuminates the whole screen evenly and is adjustable. It also has other improvements and of course it runs Android as well. Also the Kindle Touch has just been released in the UK, so it may also be released in Germany.

  4. I will keep my eye open for newer Sonys, maybe they can redeem themselves.

    I like the idea with the built-in light; is it a white LED? I have noticed that the ereader screen looks a lot sharper if the light is yellow—try those sodium vapour street lamps!
    How do I buy a Nook in Germany, though, without paying huge amounts of shipping fees? Afaik, B&N is not active here.

    Kindle is still a no-go because of its format-and-DRM bubble. Yes, Kindle Touch is available now in Germany, but at 130€ it is also more expensive than the Kobo Touch which I have seen offered for 99€ since I posted the above.