In Search of the Perfect eReader

A decade of e-readers, my hunt for privacy in the digital reading world.

Kobo Nia and Pocketbook Basic Lux 4 side-by-side
Kobo Nia (left) and Pocketbook Basic Lux 4 (right)

E-readers are lighter and more portable than a stack of paperbacks and offer a library’s worth of choices at your fingertips. While I adore the convenience, I’m increasingly squeamish about the idea of big corporations tracking every action. I crave the ease of digital books, but not at the expense of the privacy a physical book offers. This struggle sent me on a quest for the perfect e-reader, one that balances convenience with privacy.

Amazon Kindle

In a twist of irony, my e-reader journey began in with the privacy-unfriendly Amazon Kindle 4. However, options were scarce back then – Amazon was practically the only game in town. While it served me well for nearly twelve years, its reign sadly ended last month with a tragic backpack mishap – a cracked screen.



This constant feeling of being monitored with every page turn gnawed at me. It pushed me to explore other options. While jailbreaking the Kindle and installing KOReader offered some relief, it wasn’t a perfect solution. The alternative software simply runs on top of the existing system, leaving the core data collection in place. Never connecting to Wi-Fi might be the only real option.

Rakuten Kobo

When my daughter asked for an e-reader I had a second opportunity to find the right e-reader. With Amazon out, the Kobo Nia emerged as a contender for around €110, particularly appealing because it seemed more open to installing KOReader. Fast forward a few months, and my daughter was frustrated with the sluggish Kobo software. Thankfully, KOReader lived up to its reputation. After installing it, the e-reader became noticeably faster, and my daughter has been happily reading ever since.



While the Kobo Nia met my daughter’s needs, it didn’t address my concerns about data collection. The forced activation also raises a red flag. What if the activation website goes down in the future? That could brick a perfectly functional e-reader, turning it into e-waste. Know that it’s technically possible to bypass registration by updating the Kobo database yourself.


Since my Kindle died I have a third opportunity to find a privacy respecting e-reader. After some research, Mozilla’s Privacy Not Included project led me to a promising alternative: PocketBook. Their privacy policy is a breath of fresh air – no collection of personal information, and even better, no account required! With that reassurance, I snagged a PocketBook Basic Lux 4 for €112. The Lux even has a fronlight, they all do now, but it’s a “newish” feature I seriously missed on my Kindle 4.



There might be some format-compatibility differences between PocketBook and its competitors (I don’t know all the formats out there) but, thanks to Calibre, ebook format conversion happens seamlessly behind the scenes. So, while format support might be a consideration for some users, Calibre eliminates that concern for me.


After a decade of digital reading, I might have finally found my perfect e-reader soulmate. It’s still early days, but so far, the PocketBook checks all the boxes. It’s a breath of fresh air – a clean, no-nonsense E Ink device that avoids the bloatware and enshitification infecting other e-readers.