From the rumors we’re hearing, it might not be long before our kids are toting a single e-reader to school in lieu of all those heavy textbooks. e-readers are changing the world, so it’s not surprising that we get a ton of mail from Cool Mom Tech readers asking for tips on picking the best one.

A great place to start is our recent Kindle vs. Nook smackdown, which compares features of the two most popular e-readers. But there are so many to explore, I thought I’d offer up five great questions to ask yourself if you want to pick the e-reader that’s right for you. Besides, “can I afford this,” of course.

 1. What do you want to read?
Sounds basic, but do you want to read books? Magazines? Audio books? Do you want to multi-task and read online content too, as with a tablet? Would you like to download digital books from libraries or are you more of a buyer? Make sure the e-reader you’re looking at lets you read the things you actually want to read.

Also, if you’re more of a newspaper reader, you’ll probably want a screen that’s 7″ or larger. Books can be fine on smaller screens, like on smartphones.

2. Where will you be reading?
No, I don’t mean the bathroom. If you want to be able to read outdoors, you want to look for black and white E-Ink technology (such as the Amazon Kindle) which provides high contrast. If you’re more of an indoor reader, you can opt for something like an app for iPad which provides more vivid color through the LED screen but can have glare outside.

3. Do you need to sync books between devices?
If you want to pick up on your iPad where your iPhone left off, for example, you can do that with some e-reader apps. The Kindle for one has an app with Whispersync technology that syncs your last page to pick up where you stopped reading. Pretty neat.

4. Where will you download?
e-reader models with WiFi access may cost less, but 3G access offers the ability to download content on the run. Great if you’re on vacation and get through that Stieg Larsson book way faster than expected. Some e-readers, such as the Kindle, offer free 3G access for downloads.

5. What feels right?
Some e-readers function with buttons, some with touch screen controls. It’s totally a matter of preference. The best bet is to get to a place like Best Buy where you can compare them side by side. Or see if you can find a friend who will part with her beloved e-reader for a few hours and let you give it a whirl. Because when you find the e-reader that just “feels right,” it will be amazing how you can justify your need for whichever feature it happens to offer. –Beth

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