E-Readers and Bible Study

I recently had my hands on two of the top e-readers on the market: the latest Kindle and its rival, the nook. Both machines look great. Both have advantages over the other, and both are great for Bible study.

I’ve always liked gadgets, and I especially like gadgets that allow me to carry 1500-3500 books that look like paper, have adjustable fonts, and contain excellent Bible study material. There are many Bibles and Bible study resources available for both Kindle and nook at great prices. For example, you can buy the ESV Study Bible for less than $8.00. That’s a major savings over buying a hard copy.

Both machines will start a book where you left off, no matter how many books you are reading. Also, you start where you left off no matter which device you were reading on. For example, if you read using the Kindle, and then use the Kindle application for your PC, you start at the same place you left off. I like this feature because I’m always losing my place in a book.

Both machines have annotation and highlighting features, so you can make notes in your books. The Kindle will let you see notes that others have made and shared. Also, you can’t see through the paper like you can in print Bibles, making the text much clearer than printed Bibles.

Both e-readers are amazing Bible study machines. Both contain many reference works, Bibles, devotionals, and books on every Biblical topic.

Both e-readers are great at reading PDF files. I have dozens of Bible study books in PDF format, so this would allow me to carry my Bible study library with me.

Nook’s top features include:

  • Color touch screen for navigation
  • Read books for free in B&N stores (1 hour per book per day)
  • Memory expansion using SD cards (2 gig built in for 1500 books)
  • Lend-me feature – lend a book for 2 weeks
  • Sudoku and Chess built in
  • Customize with replaceable back
  • Free books (including new titles)
  • On-screen coupons for use in the B&N store (free coffee, fudge, etc)
  • Supports epub

Kindle 3’s top features include:

  • $10 cheaper than nook
  • 4 week battery life (with wifi turned off)
  • 4 gig storage for 3500 books
  • Read-to-me feature (if enabled by the publisher)
  • 50% higher contrast screen
  • Lighter, thinner, smaller with same size screen (6”)
  • International coverage
  • Keyboard with improved 5-way navigation control

Both machines have their advantages. The best choice is the reader that has the books and features you want. If you’re using the reading application on one of the listed devices rather than the actual e-reader itself then just simply buy the book for who-ever has it cheapest.

You don’t even have to have a Kindle or nook to take advantage of the e-books they have to offer. You can download a reader for your PC, Mac, iPhone/iPod Touch, Android, and Blackberry. These apps allow you to read Kindle or nook books. If you prefer to read on one of these devices, you can still buy your Bible study material in e-book format. I recommend getting both apps and download free books to see which app you like best. Even though the apps are free, nothing beats the actual e-reader.

Nothing will ever replace the look, smell, and feel of a hard copy book, but e-books have several advantages:

  • They take up less space
  • They can be searched quickly
  • Adjustable font size
  • They’re usually cheaper
  • They’re more portable. You can take them on your phone or other mobile device
  • Easy book purchasing
  • You can’t lose your books for any reason- just simply re-download them

They also have a few disadvantages:

  • You can’t buy used e-books
  • You can’t sell or trade your e-books
  • They’re not as intuitive
  • Bible and books can be difficult to navigate
  • Batteries eventually run down
  • No copy and paste functions

Why use an e-reader? Why not just get an iPad, or use the app on my phone? Electronic ink. The screens of an e-reader display the text on the screen using a technology known as e-ink. E-ink makes the page look like paper, which greatly cuts down on eye-strain. Looking at a device that is backlit, such as a phone or iPad, will eventually give you eye-strain. E-ink screens are easier to read for long periods of time because they look like paper. LCD screens are backlit- meaning that they have a light shinning in your face. This looks great for a few minutes of reading, but after a while it gets more difficult to look into the light.

E-readers can’t run the software that other devices can run, but they do have a few other functions (such as web-browser, mp3 player, and some games). No matter how many things an e-reader can do, e-readers do one thing great- they display books. E-readers do not need to do more than display books. To quote Orville Redenbacher – “Do one thing, and do it better than anybody”.

I recommend an e-reader if:

  • You read a LOT
  • You don’t have space to store your books
  • It is difficult for you to get used books
  • You buy most of your books new
  • The e-reader has the books you want
  • You read outside
  • You need to take a lot of books with you
  • You want access to the hundreds of free books available
  • You want to change the size of the font

I do not recommend an e-reader if:

  • You don’t read much and you already have a device that will run the free e-reader apps
  • The e-readers do not have the books you need
  • You don’t want a device that is dedicated to reading

E-readers are not for everyone. Many people prefer ‘real’ books over electronic books, but an e-reader has many advantages that make them worth considering. As for Bible study, there are many books, reference works, and Bibles available to allow a deep study of God’s Word, and at the lower prices for the books it doesn’t take long for the e-reader to pay for itself.

The Kindle and the nook are only two of the vast e-reader market. There are more e-readers on the market that I didn’t even mention here (Sony E-Reader, Borders Kobo, etc). Do you have an e-reader? Do you use an e-reader for Bible study?


  1. So how do you find out which e-reader has the books that you want ? I want the Bible for sure, NIV or NKJ or one of the good true to original new translations. I also like books by Lori Wick , Max Lucado and many more christian books.

  2. Bobbie,

    I recommend downloading the app for your PC, Mac, or smart-phone (iPod Touch/iPhone/iPad, Android, Blackberry). Then you can download a sample of the book or Bible you’re interested in and see if you like it.

    Thanks for asking,


  3. I just bought a Kobo. Although all the research I read made the Kindle sound attractive, I didn’t want to mail order one from the States. It isn’t available in any of the stores here in Canada. I have downloaded the free version of the Holman Christian Standard Bible and have found it unwieldy to navigate. The Table of Contents lists every single chapter, so I have to click through about five pages of Genesis chapter headings before I get to Exodus! I’m trying to locate information on which Bibles work best on Kobo and am not doing well. I’m a little upset with myself that I didn’t properly research that aspect of it before I bought it.

  4. Ruth,
    I bought a Kobo a few days ago for the same reasons — the Kindle had features I liked, but isn’t Canada friendly.  I have been trying to get used to it, and while I like it for reading a basic book, what I’m really eager to find is a Bible that would work well with Kobo.  I don’t like the thought of buying several until I find one that works well with the Kobo…  I am glad you had warnings about the chapters in the Index, I wouldn’t have thought of that.  Have you since found one that worked well?

  5. The HCSB digital text edition seems easy to navigate on my Kobo reader for my iphone and it’s free.  You might want to try that out. The HCSB is not a bad translation and is pretty readable although I do prefer the KJV.

  6. Hi Ryan,

    Thanks for the info. I like the HCSB too. It’s also free for Kindle. I’m like you… KJV is my favorite. I haven’t seen the Kobo, but I’ve heard good things about it. I’ll have to download the app.

  7. We at Miklal Software Solutions have put out a number of Bible study resources for Nook (and Kindle) that might be of interest to you. They are all well-formatted and contain advanced navigational features. Here are some titles:

    Hebrew Bible (Tanakh) (Available for Kindle and Nook;)

    Strong’s Greek Dictionary of the Bible (Available for Kindle and Nook)

    Strong’s Hebrew Dictionary of the Bible (Available for Kindle and Nook)

    Strong’s Greek and Hebrew Dictionary of the Bible (Available for Nook)

    The Comprehensive Biblical Hebrew and Aramaic Glossary (Available for Kindle and Nook)

  8. I’m looking to purchase a e-reader – specifically for reading the bible for an elderly woman in my church.  She has difficulty reading due to poor vision, so she has very heavy large print bible that is difficult for her to carry.  She only has dial-up and is not computer savy at all.  So it needs to be very easy to use.  I would like to keep the cost down too.  Any suggestions?  I don’t need anything with a lot of extra features.  Just an easy to read large (non KJV) print e-bible.

  9. Hi Christine. I would suggest either the 3G nook or 3G Kindle. This way all she has to do is go to the on-line store from the device itself and it would be wireless. You can’t go wrong with either one. They both have plenty of good non KJV Bibles that are on sale sometimes for $3 and some are even free (ESV, HCSB).


  10. I have a basic mp3/mp4 player that will display books. I would like to have a Bible to study while waiting in doctors offices. How can I find one, download it to sd via my computer through wifi? I know it will read pdfs, but I don’t know what else, nor the first thing to get started. The HCSB sounds good, and the price is right. Can you give me some tips? Thanks. Glad I found your page!

  11. Hi Marsha. I’m not sure I can help, but I’ll tell you what I know. I’ve not seen the HCSB available in PDF, but you can get it in EPUB from Christianbook. If your MP3 player will allow you to install programs, then EPUB might be a good choice. You can also get the HCSB from Olive Tree. Olive Tree requires either Android, iOS, Windows Mobile, BlackBerry, and Palm (but not Palm WebOS). Palm might be hard to find. What model MP3/4 player do you have?

  12. I am looking for an ereader that I can use in Church when the
    pastor gives a Bible reference–then another–then perhaps
    another. Just looking up scriptures–not reading through the
    Bible. Do not want to restart where I stopped last sermon.
    Prefer KJV. Is there such a device?

  13. Good question. I used a Pocket PC and now a smartphone for this. There are some stand-alone devices that might do what you want:


    Another option is a tablet. Olivetree is my favorite Bible app and the one I use on my smartphone.

    You could also use a Kindle with Miklal’s active Bible app:


    I’m sure there are other options, but these are the first that come to mind.

  14. If I purchase a nook or kindle how do I get bible on it?
    also is there an app for niv study bible?
    thank you rosemary orwig

  15. Hi Rosemary. You would purchase the Bible from the nook or Kindle, then it would download onto the device automatically. You just have to have an Internet connection for the e-reader – either wifi or 3G.

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