How do e-readers work?

Author: Nicolas ᚚ

e-readers from different brands

Today's ebook reader is a real alternative to the good old paper book. But how does an e-reader work?

How do e-readers work?

If you don't really know what an e-reader is, you should know that it's an electronic device that lets you read digital books - also known as "ebooks".

Its operation can be compared to that of a smartphone or tablet, but with a few peculiarities that we'll look at together.

An e-reader is essentially made up of 3 components:

  1. a small computer
  2. an e-ink screen (touch-sensitive and illuminated)
  3. software

This is a rather crude simplification, but it will help you understand how a reading device works.

Its main advantage over any other device that displays an electronic book (ebook) is its e-ink screen.

The way e-ink works makes reading far more comfortable than reading on a computer, smartphone or tablet.

This is because, unlike a conventional touch screen, the e-ink screen has no powerful light underneath. What's more, when the screen is switched off, it continues to display text, which also consumes less energy.

Here's a diagram showing this style of screen:

differences between e-reader and tablet screen

On the e-reader screen, light is reflected before reaching the eye, which is not the case with the tablet and its "backlit" screen.

Now, here's what happens on a e-reader when you open an ebook:

  1. the e-reader software fetches the digital file from the e-reader's memory,
  2. the software will read the file and load its contents into its memory,
  3. the software processes the text before displaying it (this is when text size, font, margins, etc. are applied),
  4. the software displays the ebook text on the page

How do I use a e-reader?

kindle e-reader

E-readers have a very limited number of buttons, so they're very easy to use.

The device contains a battery and must be charged regularly (every 3 to 4 weeks if you read an average of 1h30 a day).

To use your e-reader, simply switch it on. Then you have access to a home screen that lets you do a number of things: open a book, buy a book, access your book library and manage your e-reader's settings.

Each e-reader brand offers different software, but 90% of features are common to the Kindle, Kobo and Pocketbook brands.

You can take a look at our e-reader reviews to get an idea of the differences between the brands.

How do I buy books for an e-reader?

To buy books for an e-reader, you need to access the bookshop.

The good news is that all e-readers have a digital bookshop that can be accessed directly from the device's home screen, provided the device is connected to the Internet.

You can connect your e-reader to your WiFi network.

So you can buy a book directly from the e-reader, then download it (in under 2 minutes!) and start reading from the comfort of your living room!

How do I download a free book onto my e-reader?

More good news: not all books have to be paid for, and you can download free books onto your e-reader.

You have two options:

  1. search for free books on the bookshop directly on your e-reader and download them
  2. search and download free books from other sites and load them onto your e-reader later (here's a list of sites where you can download free books).

Which is the best e-reader?

Kindle e-reader

For some years now, Kindle, Kobo and Pocketbook have all been offering good e-readers.

The best e-reader is the one that best suits your needs:

  1. a large-screen e-reader,
  2. a smaller e-reader that's easy to carry,
  3. a e-reader with a color screen,
  4. a waterproof e-reader,
  5. e-reader services from popular brands : Kindle, Kobo and Pocketbook
  6. etc.

You can read all our e-readers reviews on this page.

This post may contain affiliate links, which means that I may receive a commission if you make a purchase using these links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.