Kobo goes back to basics with its latest Nia eReader to cater to anyone who wants to read without needing all the extras. This device isn’t about offering something entirely new, but rather something tried and tested. As some eReaders push the boundaries of what they can do, the Nia is more about the content itself, which becomes obvious as you use it.

There is a new subscription service called Kobo Plus that coincided with the Nia’s launch, and some familiar features remain. You won’t have anything else to get excited about except for the stuff you want to read.

What the Kobo Nia feels like

Kobo went bigger with the Forma and Libra H2O, where 8-inch and 7-inch displays made for larger models. It’s not fair to compare the Nia to those larger models, but doing so with the Clara HD is appropriate. The Nia has a 6-inch display with reasonably-sized bezels to make it the most diminutive eReader available.

That small size comes with some sacrifices. There’s no water-resistance, so you will need to keep it clear of a pool or tub. It doesn’t have the ComfortLight blue light filter, so you won’t get that yellowish tint that makes reading in the dark easier on the eyes. Its 212ppi pixel density also doesn’t make it as ideal for viewing content with images, like comic books.

All that puts more of an onus on actual text. Not to mention the portability relative to the other choices. Kobo designed this in an understated, yet effective way. The plastic body doesn’t feel cheap, and the back has a decent grip to it. If you want to protect the screen, you can always get a SleepCover case in one of three colours.

It is a little unfortunate Kobo stuck to a microUSB port for charging, given that USB-C is now the industry standard. With 8GB of storage, there’s plenty of room for eBooks and other content you can load onto the device. That integration looms large here because it’s the one thing that narrows the gap with Kobo’s other models.

Finding content to read

Kobo’s eBookstore now has 4 million eBooks available, and you can access them while connected to Wi-Fi. About a quarter of those are free to download, which is a good place to look for a gem or two. Otherwise, Kobo’s service partners are also available.

OverDrive remains one of the best features for Kobo because it taps into the plethora of titles held by public libraries. Borrow a digital version of a book from your participating local library, so long as you have an active library card and OverDrive account.

Then there’s Pocket, which is great for taking articles from the web to read later on the Nia. Save the links to your Pocket account while browsing on a computer, tablet or phone, and you can then see them on the eReader.

If you have your own documents or files, Kobo’s format support is broad and extensive. You can load and up and read PDF, EPUB, EPUB3, PDF, MOBI, TXT, HTML or RTF, and getting them onto the Nia isn’t hard. You can see JPEG, TIFF, GIF, PNG and BMP images, as well as CBZ and CBR comic books, but the smaller display isn’t as conducive to that.

Introducing Kobo Plus

In addition to launching the Nia, Kobo also opened its Plus subscription service in Canada. This is an all-you-can-read platform you pay $9.99/month for access to hundreds of thousands of eBooks. There is a 30-day trial to give it a shot first before committing to anything, though you can glean a little insight about what’s available by browsing on the eReader.

Mind you, the Nia isn’t the only Kobo device getting the service. It’s available on every Kobo eReader (except the older Kobo Mini and Kobo Wi-Fi), plus the mobile app and desktop web browsers. The eBooks available won’t necessarily include some of the best-sellers and top authors. It’s a mixed offering, and you can see it for yourself when you browse through.

If you do try Plus out, note that Kobo limits you to 15 eBooks for offline reading over a 30-day period. It will reset when you reconnect to Wi-Fi after you’ve either opened 15 eBooks or reached the end of the 30-day period of offline reading.

Reading on the Kobo Nia

By now, any eReader with a 6-inch display is going to feel small. The Nia feels smaller because of the thinner bezels and lighter weight. While commuting isn’t quite what it used to be for most people under current conditions, this is the kind of device you can slip into most pockets.

From a feature perspective, nothing has really changed as to what you can do while reading. The scrubber to navigate across a book (introduced in the Libra H2O) is the same, as are the ways you annotate or look things up.

Unlike the Libra H2O and Forma, however, you can’t read in landscape when tilting it sideways. For a screen this small, it’s probably not worth including anyway, but still something you should know. However, I have to admit I did miss the ComfortLight Pro. When you’ve used the amber light regularly, it’s hard to get used to the blue light in the dark.

I will say, also, that documents don’t always translate as well to the smaller display. PDFs definitely look better on the larger models, where there’s less of a need to scale down. To me, the Nia is at its best when reading eBooks, no matter where you get them from. It’s less work to manage the text onscreen, and it’s the easiest thing to do on it anyway. I wasn’t crazy about how images looked on it, largely because of the screen’s size, but also because they look sharper on the other models.

None of that may matter much if you’re just looking for a basic eReader to go through some books. In that regard, there’s not much holding the Nia back. It retains most of the important features Kobo is known for, and doesn’t skimp out in spite of the price.

Final thoughts

As I mentioned earlier, this isn’t a successor device. Kobo hasn’t gone this basic with an eReader in years, but it couldn’t come at a better time. The company says it saw a 93% increase in readership between March-July 2020 over the year before due to lockdowns. If you’re among that statistic, then the Nia is a good choice on a budget, or if you just want something basic and portable. If this is too small or basic, then you have other options in Kobo’s lineup.

You won’t have to worry about battery life here, either. Even with regular reading, it will last for weeks, so you won’t have to charge it often. But if you want to keep it safe and protected to last longer, I recommend getting one of the SleepCover cases.

The Kobo Nia is available now at Best Buy.

Editor Cellular/Mobile Technology
I’m a fortunate man in being able to do the fun job of following and reporting on one of the most exciting industries in the world today. In my time covering consumer tech, I’ve written for a number of publications, including the Globe and Mail, Yahoo! Canada, CBC.ca, Canoe, Digital Trends, MobileSyrup, G4 Tech, PC World, Faze and AppStorm. I’ve also appeared on TV as a tech expert for Global, CTV and the Shopping Channel.


  1. Book would be “Talking to Strangers”, by Malcom Gladwell and I would pick the Kobo Libra H2O 7″ Digital eReader w/Touchscreen (N873-KU-BK-K-EP) & SleepCover Case -Black

  2. Simplicity. I crave simplicity. I like the simplicity of the Kobo Nia with the vibrant aqua sleepcover, please. I just want to read books from the library (I’m super cheap) or I’ll buy the occasional deal at the Kobo store. I don’t need any extra bells and whistles. The first book I would load on my new Kobo Nia e-reader is Bill Bryson’s The Body : a guide for occupants.

  3. My favourite Kobo is the Kobo Nia 6″ digital reader and the first book I would add to the digital reader would be Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone. Thanks to Best Buy for this amazing contest!

  4. I think the Mia sounds great for just being able to throw it into my bag. But yea, I don’t really want to get more different kinds of chargers!

    I would buy From the Ashes – I’ve heard so many good things about it and I want to support more Indigenous authors.

  5. Kobo Libra H2O 7″ Digital eReader w/Touchscreen (N873-KU-BK-K-EP) & SleepCover Case -Black

    The boy from the woods
    Book by Harlan Coben

  6. I haven’t used an e-reader before but the Kobo Nia is small and lightweight so I’ll chose that one. I would like to read Think Like a Monk by Jay Shetty.

  7. the Kobo Libra H2O 7″ Digital eReader would be the best for me, I like the lighting and length of charge is awesome

  8. I think I like the Kobo Libra H2O the best, and if I had a new eReader, I’d probably add the Earthsea Cycle Series by Ursula Le Guin to it first!

  9. My favourite kobo is Libra H2O since I would use it to read manuals for equipment in the rain. The Nia will work ok in a waterproof case.
    First book would be Guards by Terry Pratchett.

  10. So far I like the Kobo Clara, but would love to try the Nia!! I would download “Or What You Will” by Jo Walton.

  11. My favourite Kobo is the Nia 6″ Digital Touchscreen eReader and I would probably get the sleep cover. My first book would be To Kill a Mockingbird as I have always wanted to read it.

  12. I would like the Kobo Libra H2O 7″ Digital Reader. I would re-read The Stand by Stephen King. Thanks for the opportunity.

  13. I would like the Kobo Libra H20 7″ Digital Reader. I would re-read The Stand by Stephen King. Thanks for the opportunity!

  14. My favourite Kobo would be the Libra H2O due to its slightly smaller size than the Forma, and the Comfort Light Pro feature. The first book I would read on my new Kobo would be Louise Penny’s latest inspector Gamache novel.

  15. I like the Kobo Libra H2O 7″ Digital eReader with Touchscreen for the size and the overlook look. I think I would first try Stephen King’s If It Bleeds as I haven’t read his work for many years.

  16. I would read a Harlen Coben book on my Kobo and I would choose the Kobo Libra H2O 7″ Digital eReader w/Touchscreen

  17. he book I would choose is The Room where it happened by John Bolton. The reader I prefer is the Kobo Libra H2O 7″ Digital eReader w/Touchscreen (N873-KU-WH-K-EP) & SleepCover Case -White/Aqua.

  18. I like the look and the font on the Kobo Libra H2O 7″ Digital eReader with Touchscreen. I think I would first read Ken Follett’s The Evening and the Morning for an entertaining thriller.

  19. I would prefer the smaller Kobo Nia but the lack of a bluelight filter is a deal breakder for me. So I will have to go with the LIbra H2O as my top choice. The first book I would read is The Hitch Hikers Guide To The Galaxy.

  20. I like the Kobo Libra H20 and the first book I would read on it would be Stephen King’s newest, The Institute.

  21. I would really like the Kobo Libra H2O 7″ Digital eReader with Touchscreen (N873-KU-BK-K-EP) – Black. I would add the Lord of the Rings trilogy first.

  22. Kobo Libra H2O as it is waterproof and seems larger
    My first ebook would be Frank Herbert’s Dune Saga Collection

  23. Hi Ted,

    Looks awesome, after reading up on it the Kobo Nia is definitely my favorite E reader! Hopefully I win this one, but if I don’t I might just have to go down to Best Buy and buy one 🙂

    the first book on my To Read list is the Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead . Looking forward to adding it and reading on my new reader haha

    Thank you, good luck!

  24. The Nia has a 6-inch display with reasonably-sized bezels to make it the most diminutive eReader available. Harry Bosch is on the case in Black Echo

  25. The Kobo Libra H2O 7″ Digital eReader w/Touchscreen (N873-KU-BK-K-EP) & SleepCover Case is my favourite. I m playin catch up with James Patterson

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