9 E-Reader Hacks That Will Help You Save Money, Share Books With Friends, and Read More Than Ever

updated Apr 16, 2021
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Young student using e-book and bookshelf on background

While there’s nothing like the magical feeling of cracking open a brand new book and inhaling that sweet smell of fresh pages, there’s no denying how convenient it is to get your reading done via a lightweight, extremely portable e-reader. Gone are the days of cramming your suitcase full of heavy books for vacation, or being stuck on the train or at the doctor’s office without something to read. E-readers like the Nook, Kindle, and Kobo make plowing through your Goodreads list or finishing that book club selection easy, but they can do more than help you flip through the (digital) pages. 

Did you know your e-reader can open PDFs, or that you can lend a book you loved to a friend? Read on for some simple e-reader hacks to make this handy device even more essential to your to-be-read pile and your life.

If you want to: Save some cash…

If you’re trying to trim down your book budget, there are a plethora of places to snag a free book or two. For classics and educational content that works best on Kindle, try Project Gutenberg; the books are free, though they do ask that you consider donating to help with operational costs. Open Library is home to over three million free ebooks, and Kindle has an entire store for its free titles and daily deals.

If you want to: Lend a favorite book to a friend…

Can’t stop singing the praises of your latest favorite? Let a friend or family member enjoy it too! It’s easy to lend a book on your Kindle as long as the book is eligible. All you need is their email address, and they’ll be alerted that their next great read is en route, courtesy you!

If you want to: Take a screenshot or underline a favorite quote…

Sometimes you just have to preserve a particularly good passage or page to refer back to. If you’re using an Amazon Fire Tablet or a Nook, you can screenshot by holding the “down” volume and power buttons together, similar to what you do on a phone. For a Paperwhite, simply press and hold down on the top left/bottom right or top right/bottom left corners. To underline a great line or meaningful moment, press and hold as though you’re “highlighting” it.

If you want to: Patronize your local library…

Put your library card to work — or finally get one! — with your e-reader. The most popular library app is Libby, which lets you peruse your local library from the comfort of your favorite reading chair. Just don’t forget to return your books on their due date; just because they’re digital doesn’t mean they don’t need to be returned on time! 

If you want to: Open PDFs and more…

If you’d like to review work documents or classwork, you can open PDFs, Word docs, and more via your Kindle. Email them to your Kindle address (yes, this exists!) and complete a few simple steps to open your document, then enjoy that academic paper or dive into that contract.

If you want to: Listen to your current read as an audiobook…

Turn an ebook into an audiobook with Amazon’s Whispersync feature, which works on a variety of Kindles, Kindle apps, and Fire Tablets. You can even hop between reading text and listening without losing your place if you enjoy the mix — isn’t technology amazing?

If you want to: Read from the pool or the bathtub…

There’s nothing more relaxing than unwinding with a book, whether you’re poolside or soaking away in the bath. The Kobo Forma, Kindle Paperwhite, and the Nook GlowLight Plus are waterproof so you don’t have to worry about a tragic mishap and soggy pages. You can even bring your book into the pool with you if it’s impossible to put down.

If you want to: Score a deal on a refurbished e-reader…

If you don’t yet own an e-reader but are now convinced, you can save some money by purchasing a refurbished version for a lower price. Each refurbished Nook, Kindle, or Kobo is certified, and Amazon’s refurbished products come with a limited warranty, just like a new product. Think of it as more money to spend on books! 

If you want to: Turn your phone into an e-reader

Your iPhone or Android can do double duty as an e-reader if you so choose! Both Kindle and Kobo have apps that can be used on your phone so you can get your reading done anywhere and everywhere, even without the official device.