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If there’s a reader on your holiday shopping list —someone who just can’t put down a book— Kobo has the ideal gift idea. Kobo’s popular Aura eReader is specially priced for a limited time. Plus, there’s a special holiday bonus. Buy any eligible Kobo device and the lucky recipient gets a free first e-book chosen from a list of popular book series. 

The eReader Advantage

For someone who loves reading and wants to take the plunge into digital, eReaders have many advantages. They are preferred over tablets by many people who spend a lot of time enjoying eBooks.

There are multiple reasons for this. A dedicated eReader is lighter and more natural to hold for extended periods of time. The reading experience is free from the distraction of notifications —no flashing messages that you have e-mail, a Facebook update or your virtual castle is being attacked. The battery lasts for weeks (sometimes months) on a charge, so having the battery run out during a marathon reading session is a non-issue. The E Ink display looks great indoors and even better outdoors —there’s none of the glare associated with a high gloss tablet display.

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Many people do much of their reading at night, and this is where science gets involved in the debate. Tablets use backlit LCD displays. The light is projected directly into the reader’s face and that can cause eye strain. There are also studies linking the light emitted by tablet displays to sleep disruption. 

Most eReaders like the Kobo Aura series use a different lighting system that illuminates the display from the side instead of shining it up into the reader’s face. This is much more natural (more like the effect of a reading lamp) that makes reading at night much more pleasant. I occasionally use my iPad to read web-based articles at night and immediatley notice the difference —the lighting seems much more harsh, especially in the dark.

In short, got a reader on your list? If so, an eReader makes an excellent gift.

Kobo E-Readers

Since the early days of the devices, eReaders have continued to improve. Some of the manufacturers have dropped out of the market (Sony left earlier this year and transferred its accounts to Kobo), but Kobo has remained and gets better with each generation.

I have a large collection of eReaders and tablets and hands down, no contest, my personal favourite is the Kobo Aura HD. I love its slightly larger screen (6.8-inches compared to the usual 6-inches), the ComfortLight illumination is even and the display is razor sharp. The Kobo Aura H2O is even better —the same specs, but waterproof as well (see my review here)— but I don’t have one of those in my own collection.

I wasn’t a big fan of the first generation Kobo e-reader but the company’s offerings have improved by leaps and bounds in the years since then. Besides early Kobos, I have Sony, Nook and Kindle eReaders and the one I use every night and take with me when I travel is that Kobo Aura HD.

While the Aura HD and Aura H2O are premium eReaders, Kobo hasn’t ignored the affordable market, either. 

Kobo Aura.jpgThe Kobo Aura (pictured at right) has the same basic look as the more expensive models although in a more traditional 6-inch size. It offers the same ComfortLight illumination, Wi-Fi, 4GB of storage and two month battery life. It does’t have that ultra sharp 265 dpi display, but at 1024 x 758 pixels, it’s no slouch, either.

The Aura has superior font control to most competing eReaders (having 10 fonts and 24 sizes to choose from, plus weight and sharpness), so readers can optimize every eBook to look just the way they prefer. And like all Kobo devices, it includes reader-friendly features like Kobo’s Reading Life: social media sharing of your reviews or book favourites, Kobo Picks (eBook recommendations based on your reading activity), reading stats and awards, featured collections, Beyond the Book (web-based content related to selected text) and a Reading Dashboard that’s the hub for all of your reading activity. 

If you want to go the multi-purpose route, Kobo makes some excellent tablets too. Read my review of the Kobo Arc 10HD for an idea of what to expect there. Kobo’s Arc tablets offer excellent displays and good value for the money, as well as all of Kobo’s eReading expertise.

Holiday Bonus

As a hardcore reader myself, there are few things I enjoy more than a good series. When I find a book that I really find myself getting into, there’s nothing more frustrating than reaching the end. Even if it was a great book —especially if it was a great book— I usually find myself wanting more.

That’s why I have a habit of collecting book series. Each volume in a series has its own unique story line, but there are familiar plot elements, characters and, of course, the author. When I buy a book that’s part of a series, there’s an element of surprise (what’s going to happen this time?) but also some comforting familiarity. And I know that after I finish a book, that’s not the end. I have more to look forward to. Unless it’s the last in a series, in which case it’s time to keep an eye on the author in the hopes that there are more coming.  

Kobo understands this. It’s not just the manufacturer of some very good eReaders, the company also operates one of the largest online bookstores. The Holiday Bonus offer included with Kobo devices lets the recipient select the first eBook in a series of their choice, for free. The eligible eBooks are drawn from a range of genres, including: Mystery & Suspense, Young Adult, Romance and Fiction & Literature.

And as the graphic below shows, getting that free eBook is easy.

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Thanks to my decision to switch to eReaders a number of years ago, the seven full-height bookshelves that used to house my collection of dead tree books have been at least partially repurposed and shelving seems unlikely to take over the house as it once threatened to do. Any time I want to pick up where I left off on one of my favourite series, I just pick up my eReader, which holds my entire library.

The Kobo Holiday Bonus is good for any Kobo device (including Kobo Arc tablets) purchased between December 1, 2014 and December 31, 2014. So you still have time to get the gift that hardcore reader on your list will love! They then have until January 31, 2015 to activate the device and until February 28 to download their free e-book —if you chose a Kobo Aura, chances are that’s about when they’ll be due for their first battery recharging, too.

Brad Moon
Editor Computing solutions
I’m a long-time electronics and gadget geek who’s been fortunate enough to enjoy a career that lets me indulge this interest. After 13 years as a product manager with a leading Canadian tech company, I transitioned into a full-time career of writing about technology. I’ve contributed to a range of publications and websites including Forbes, Wired, Gizmodo, Lifehacker, About.com, MSN Money, the Winnipeg Free Press, InvestorPlace Media, Shaw Media and—combining technology and my three kids—I’ve been a Core Contributor to the award winning GeekDad blog since its launch in 2007.