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11 Best Kindle Alternatives For Ethical E-reading

Amazon Kindle Alternative

This article is a part of an ongoing series on how to minimize or eliminate Amazon use from our lives. We’re highlighting the best Amazon alternatives for those with ethical, moral, or environmental qualms with the trillion-dollar company.

While many people still prefer reading from print books, the pure convenience of digital books on an e-reader is hard to beat.

E-readers give you the ability to carry around unlimited books, have a built-in backlight that allows you to read at night without disturbing a partner, and might even encourage you to read more. Plus, an e-reader is an easy way to reduce your carbon footprint.

Here are the pros of having an e-reader:

  • You can travel with a virtually unlimited number of books
  • E-ink screens are glare-free, which is way better for reading outdoors than reading on a phone or tablet
  • Built-in backlights don’t keep you awake but still allow you to read in bed or on a plane without fumbling with a bulky book light
  • Battery life on e-ink devices is incredible. Charge your e-reader for a few hours and you’re good for weeks. Put it on airplane mode to last even longer.
  • Read in a distraction-free environment. No more push notifications derailing your attention span.

The folks at Wirecutter described the benefits of e-readers well: “Nonreflective, electronic-ink displays give you a more paperlike visual experience (including enjoyable reading outdoors and less eye strain compared with an LCD screen), plus lighter weight and a significantly longer battery life. And a dedicated e-book reader offers fewer distractions — you won’t be tempted to switch apps to check Twitter or your email.”

We’ve been working on an ongoing series about how to detangle your life from Amazon’s grasp

Everyone’s heard of Kindles — but if you want to ensure you’re not sending more money to Amazon, you might be looking for alternatives. We’ve got you covered.

By the way, some of the links in this article may be affiliate links — which means that Good Good Good may receive a commission if you make a purchase via our links, at no addition cost to you. Thank you!

Alternatives to the Amazon Kindle e-reader

Kobo

Kobo Clara 2E
Kobo Clara 2E / Photo courtesy of Kobo

If you’re looking for a Kindle alternative, we’ve found that the best alt e-reader in the business is Kobo. Created by Rakuten, it’s nearly identical in features to the Kindle, and has nearly the same selection of ebooks — all within an affordable price range.

One especially nice feature is that Kobo devices have OverDrive built right in — allowing you to check out free library ebooks directly from your device.

Our top recommendations for the best models:

We reviewed Kobo e-readers to help reader pick the right device.
Explore the Kobo review

Boox

Boox Max Lumi
Boox Max Lumi / Photo courtesy of Boox

If you’re looking for a tool that goes above and beyond the capabilities of a Kindle, definitely check out Boox. Boox creates e-ink tablets with more bells and whistles. Think of them as an iPad competitor that’s easier on the eyes.

Whether you’re drawn to the larger-sized screens (perfect if you read large-format documents more than books), or you love that a few of their models come with an Android operating system (for downloading apps, doing note-taking, or even creating art) — Boox is definitely worth looking into.

Our top recommendations for the best models:

Barnes & Noble’s NOOK

Barnes & Noble Nook
NOOK GlowLight 4e / Photo courtesy of NOOK

Originally launched in 2011, Barnes & Noble’s e-reader offering has had a lot of time to improve. If you’re fine with getting most of your ebooks from the Barnes & Noble store, a NOOK is a great Kindle competitor.

One bonus is that NOOKs run on a modified version of Android, and it’s possible to modify the device to allow for app downloads, customization, and more. (Contrast that with Amazon’s more tightly locked-down software.)

Our top recommendations for the best models:

Likebook

While not a household name, Likebook’s e-reader devices are packed with premium features at a budget-friendly price.

We love that their main offerings include the ability to download Android apps (making it easy to purchase books from ethical ebook stores or even read the news), allow you to shift the color temperature of the backlight (for a warmer, sleepier bedtime reading routine), and have high-res screens (for reading visual-driven books).

Our top recommendations for the best models:

Non E-readers

There are more and more devices coming out that work effectively as an e-reader, even though that’s not their primary intention.

Our top recommendation is:

  • reMarkable - This e-ink tablet is ideal for people who want to take notes on a tablet that feels like paper. Fortunately, it also works great as an e-reader as a secondary function.

A Used Kindle

To be honest, the Kindle itself is hard to beat. If a non-Kindle e-reader alternative works well for you, go for it. But if you really feel like a Kindle is the way to go, it’s still possible to ethically use a Kindle device without supporting Amazon. Here’s our guide on how to do it:

How to ethically use a Kindle

It’s absolutely possible to own a Kindle and not contribute any money to Amazon’s bottom line. We’ll walk you through how to ethically buy a Kindle, ethically access ebooks, and make sure Amazon isn’t collecting data about you.

Buying a Kindle ethically

Kindle devices have always been inexpensive because Amazon ultimately wants to make money from you buying their ebooks.

This means that a lot of people have purchased affordable Kindles to test them out, only to find out that they don’t use them as much as they hoped. A lot of lightly used Kindles are available for an even bigger discount on eBay.

You can buy a Kindle without ever giving Amazon a dime — and reducing the environmental impacts of manufacturing new pieces of technology.

Using a Kindle ethically

Amazon’s profit from Kindles reportedly comes from two places, primarily: You buying ebooks exclusively through them — and through the collection of your data.

You can essentially eliminate both of these with enough intentionality.

Instead of buying your ebooks through Amazon, you have a few options for reading books through other means.

  1. If your local library uses Libby or OverDrive, you can simply connect your Kindle account to your local library and have all of your books sent over to your Kindle.
    This is completely free.
    Your books will stay on your Kindle for however long your checkout time is (usually 2-3 weeks) and will disappear after you’ve returned them.
  2. If you buy DRM-free ebooks with a compatible format, you can actually just forward your ebooks to a special Kindle email address (Amazon calls it your “Send-to-Kindle Email”) and they’ll automatically show up on your Kindle.

When it comes to data collection, you can simply go into your settings and remove as much personal information as possible. 

Under Settings, then Device Options, then Advanced Options, you can change your Privacy settings to stop the collection of personal data. You can also potentially Deregister your device (Settings, then Your Account) depending on which features you need access to.

You’ll also want to switch from Goodreads to a Goodreads alternative — because Goodreads is also owned by Amazon.

Ultimately, Amazon wants to use your data to try to sell you more stuff — so if you’re already trying to minimize the amount of money you’re spending with Amazon, you’re probably already winning.

Can you use Kindle alternatives with Libby?

Our team has fallen in love with our local libraries again — all thanks to Libby. Libby makes it easy for you to check out digital books from your library — and immediately transfer them over to your Kindle.

But what if you want to keep checking out books from your library — but don’t want to own a Kindle? Fortunately, we have some good news: Most of these Kindle alternatives work with Libby — and some of them are even better than the Kindle experience.

Here’s a breakdown:

  • Kobo: New Kobos actually have an OverDrive app built into the device. (OverDrive is the company that makes Libby, and essentially works the same way.)
    Simply follow Rakuten’s instructions to log into your library and get started.
    We love that this allows you to check our books from your library without leaving your e-reader.
  • NOOK: On newer NOOKs you can simply download the Libby app from the app store. Not only will it let you read books without any sort of transfer process, it will also let you discover and check out books from your library directly from your device. For older devices, check out “Everything Else” below.
  • Likebook: Likebooks run on Android and give you access to the Google Play Store, which means you can simply download the Libby app like you would on your phone.
  • Boox: Like Likebooks, these devices allow you to simply download the Libby app from the app store.
  • Everything Else: Even if your e-reader isn’t immediately compatible or is too old to work with Libby — you can always go to Plan B: Adobe Digital Editions. The tl;dr: Use this app on your computer to convert your library books into a format that works for your e-reader.

Alternatives to buying tech through Amazon in general

Shopping for technology can be done sustainably, as well (and without the help of handy dandy Amazon). There are other ways to get your gadgets and goods, but shopping local is best; you can use Locally to see what stores are available near you. 

If you’re unable to shop in-person and appreciate Amazon for its online convenience, you can actually use eBay to shop for second-hand electronics and gadgets, so you can give a second life to products instead of needing a new product to be manufactured.

Article Details

December 5, 2022 6:28 AM
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