Back in 2016 when Kobo released the Kobo Aura One, it was Kobo’s first dedicated ebook reader to come with 8GB of internal storage space, and even then some people were complaining that 8GB wasn’t enough and that Kobo should have included a memory card slot as well.
My argument was that you couldn’t possibly read 8GB worth of ebooks within the lifespan of an ebook reader before the device’s battery would die.
With that much storage space you can easily fit upwards of five thousand average-sized ebooks, and even if you could somehow read one per day it would take over 13 years to read that many books.
But to this day many people still seem to think that more storage space is needed.
Most ebook readers come with 8GB or more these days, and Kobo and Amazon are happy to charge extra for models with 32GB of internal storage space, and people often ask if it’s worth paying more for the 32GB versions.
Unless you are downloading audiobooks or massive amounts of comics and manga, then realistically you’re never going to need anywhere close to 32GB of storage space on an ebook reader.
PDFs are one argument, but with devices like Kindles and Kobos the idea of using such a small screen for massive PDF libraries doesn’t make much sense either.
Some people are digital hoarders but I’m kind of the opposite of that. My Kindle Oasis usually only has about a dozen ebooks downloaded at one time. Nine times out of ten when I finish a book the first thing I do is remove it from the device. This is because I got in the habit of reading library ebooks, so when I would finish one I would return it right away.
Most books I don’t care about reading a second time anyway, and the few that I do reread I’m not going to do so for another 5-10 years. The way I look at it is I don’t want a book I’ve read clogging up the library view for the next decade, at which time I’ll be using a different reading device anyway.
On smaller ebook readers I could get by with less than 1GB of storage space easily because I have no problem relying on cloud storage. On larger multipurpose devices like the Onyx Note 2 I need more space for PDFs and other stuff, and since it comes with 64GB of space that’s never going to be a problem, but on dedicated ebook readers like Kindles and Kobos I don’t need much space at all.
So what about you? How much storage space do you really use on your ebook reader? Not how much do you think you need, but how much do you actually use?
I doubt I’d need more that 2 GB of storage on my Kindles (PW4 and Voyage). I would say I have maybe 4-6 books on them. I have 1 or 2 in my “Nightstand” collection and maybe a couple more in my “Read Next” collection, possibly a cookbook in my “Cookbooks” collection. When I am done reading a book, I move it to my “Finished” collection and then remove it from my device.
If we are going someplace where I might have lots of time to read, I might download a couple more books that are already in my Read Next collection. (I also have a “To Read” collection where ALL of my books that I haven’t read are located (in the cloud).
Before they added the Read status to books, I used my Finished collection to let me know that, if I download a book again to the device, I’ve already read it. I just keep up with that because it’s part of my routine.
Actually I stopped using dedicated ereader and go with a small tablet where I can view videos and emails and use a reader app. So always look for the biggest size memory that I can get. That way I dont have to worry. My philosophy is better to have it not need it than to need it and not have it. Maybe wrong by your viewpoint but works for me.
Yeah, I could get by on a single gig. It would never appeal to me to run my Audible books off my Kindle, that is what smartphones are for. I just want text, I keep a collection of articles and several books handy.
I’m using just under 4G on my Kindle now, but I was running out of space when I had my cookbook collection downloaded. Some of those are ridiculously large due to having many high res photos that are useless on an e-ink screen anyway, so I split things up and moved the cookbooks to my iPad. It has more storage, the photos look great, and it’s also easier to prop it up in the kitchen and wake it up when it goes to sleep while I’m cooking.
I do keep the books I’ve read on my Kindle. I read a lot of fiction, and a lot of it is series by the same author. When it’s been a few years since the last book, it’s nice to be able to search my library for a character name or skim through the previous books to refresh my memory.
I am disappointed in ebook readers. They don’t have enough internal memory. I went back to physical books for my permanent collections and keep ebooks for free books. I still like an actual book better. It would cost thousands of dollars to convert all my books to ebooks. Never going to to happen as I own over 13000 real books plus crafting magazines. I like physical books 📚 better but like ebooks for travel for the convience of having many books and not having to lug pounds of books. So I have mixed feelings about them.
you can get the 32gb kindle and download all your 13000
books on to your kindle.
If l had that many l would
Personally I dislike using cloud storage for media so I want some storage capacity, but you’re right if you’re not using it for reading pdfs or listening to audiobooks you don’t need that much.
IMHO if they could make a device cheaper by reducing storage, and adding an sd card slot I would have been much much happier.
Cheron Hayes says
Since I use Calibre to manage all my ebooks, I prefer lots of storage so that I have my library with me at all times. I have a Kobo and Pocketbook, and about half the 32GB storage is used, several of my books are biographies with lots of pictures, so they take up more space. I tried using collections to manage which books I would upload to my device, but then I would be stuck in a doctors office, finish a book ,and need another one and not have it. 😊😊 I am one of those who says the more storage the better!!
One thing I recently learned as someone that uses Calibre, emailing my books is great. I email them to my Kindle which means now they are in the cloud and can be downloaded whenever I want and also book location is also stored and syncs across devices. Works great for me.
I could easily get by with 2 GB, and think 4 GB would be a good balance.
I’ve had my Kobo for 4.5 months (broke the screen on my Voyage) during which time I was recovering from a severe injury. All I could do was read, and because I was a bit addled I stuck to massive fantasy tri+logies so that I didn’t have to spend too much time looking for my next book and the plot lines are somewhat straight forward. (drugs and Camus or Pynchon don’t mix). I am currently at 1.5 GB storage used with zero clean up. The included Sherlock Holmes is even still on there. If anything 8 GB just makes me messy. Even travelling, these days you almost always have internet access.
If I did audio books I imagine I would just use my phone anyway.
Steve Wayland says
I keep my finished ebooks on my device so I know which books in a series I’ve already read. I have 600 books on my Kobo, and I’m using less than 2 GB. 4 GB would be plenty of storage.
Servaas Doornberg says
I think the fact is we all know what 32gb of memory costs so people buying those devices can’t help but turn a stink eye towards the manufactures because they are either stingy with the memory, or ask way too much for a bit of extra storage.
Right now I have about 1.5 GB on the Kobo Forma that I use for pretty much all of my ereading. I just load stuff on that I expect to get to soon, but I don’t often bother to remove things. No worries about not having enough space.
I have the 4gb basic Kindle and I have 500 books downloaded to it. They have used roughky 1.25gb of storage. I only have unread books downloaded to it so I can’t see that I would ever fill it right up.
All of my ebooks are side loads . If I have 8 books on my readers that would be a lot.
I store my archive on a USB3 flash stick. I need at least another life time to read my archived books. All of them are MUST reads 🙂
Apparently I am a neurotic digital hoarder the same way my house is piled with physical books in every corner. (Although I will say I only hoard books, not anything else.) I have about 500mb of free space on my kindle paperwhite and I have to work to keep that much free out of a worry (possibly unfounded?) that a lack of free space will slow it down. You have given me an entirely new way to think about kindle books. Hmmmmm. I guess you have to trust that your digital library would always be available in the cloud.
I too am a hoarder. I had to buy the 32GB Oasis and have 10.5GB available after downloading 3,500 books + 100 comics + 25 Audible titles.
My concern is whether after an EMP pulse brings down the Internet the Kindle will refuse to load my local content because it can’t “phone home” (yes, I do have a solar charger). Does anyone know whether the Oasis periodically validates content?
Steve H. says
I am sure I am a digital hoarder. Fortunately I only hoard ebooks. I keep my entire library on device. I also have a large amount of very large file, graphic books. I have a 32 gig Oasis and a 32 gig Kobo Forma….both with about 8 gigs still free. O/S takes up about 6 gigs.
One reason for on device storage on the Oasis is that it allows me to find exactly where any term is in a library of a few thousand books(indexed). I read all kinds of genres…sci fi, fantasy, fiction, science, politics and social issues, photography, cookbooks, home improvement, business and health books.
It does slow it down and prevent the device from updating. I’ve only owned two ereaders and the only reason I upgraded was so that I didn’t need to keep a book light with me. However, both devises got glitchy when too full.
I think 8 g is more than enough. I may have about 6 full ebooks downloaded at any given time and several samples and I never have a problem. I don’t listen to audio books on my ereader. The 8 gs on my Kindle Paperwhite works for me.
David Evers says
I have a 16 GB Nook tablet (10″) with a 16 GB memory card in the slot. I use it to read books, magazines, technical papers, and heavily illustrated and formatted books. It is more than one half full. The technical papers and, especially, formatted books fill up space fast. I tend to keep more on it because the download speed is poor at best, so I batch download overnight, read and delete, then repeat when I get low.
I have a Kobo Format bought in Japan to get the extra storage (32 GB) at a price less than the 8 GB version here in France.
I read mostly manga then ebooks and I exceed the 8 GB storage but I never delete anything.
I prefer to keep my stuff on my device to lend it to a friend. ^^
I am a book hoarder and I have never used up the space on my eReader. My first one, the Kindle 4, had 2GB. I kept my entire 700 book library on it, never had an issue. I got the 32GB Oasis because I wanted the champagne gold one, but I don’t see myself ever using all the space on it, even if I stored every ebook I ever bought on it. Right now I’m using 6 gigs, but that includes the firmware. An 8GB would’ve suited me fine. However, I don’t read many audiobooks and would prefer to have them on my phone instead anyway.
Jason Townsend says
I also delete books when I finish them. I dont do audiobooks, magazines or anything else, hence my Oasis “only” has 8 gigs that I barely use.
The indexing capabilities of most e-book systems make it very cumbersome to have more than, around 100 books on an e-reader. I don’t keep more than about 100 on my Kindle. The Nook’s old indexing (collections… shelves) was more user-friendly than Amazon’s indexing, enabling hundreds of books to be readily stored and located on a Nook. B&N’s decision to exclude sideloaded books from its indexing system changed that. As most of my books are sideloaded, I keep only about 100 books at a time- usually less- on my Nook.
I am in agreement that one doesn’t need a big storage capacity on an e-reader, given the limitations of the indexing systems in use. Say 1-2 GIG.
As I change almost all PDFs into EPUB/AZW3 these days, via Mobi Pocket or occasionally Calibre, there isn’t the need to have big storage capacity for PDFs.
Charles Kemp says
I have never had over a few hundred megs of books on my kindle at any one time.
If you’re reading actual ebooks, yes. I read Japanese Manga (comics) on my tablets. Always interested in an ebook reader but they just don’t have enough space and don’t have an option for sd expansion. 0ne volume of manga takes up about 50mb – 100mb and on a Saturday I can read up to 20 volumes. That’s 1gb – 2gb. Imagine only being able to put one or two ebooks in your device. I usually can fill up almost 200gb on my SD card in my tablet
I want at least 32G. This is just me. I like to collect books. I use to collect physical books and obviously that gave me trouble with space.
With digital format, I don’t have that restriction. So I want as many as I could in my devices. I have Kindle Oasis 32g and I put everything on it. I even convert epub books into kindle format.
However, my Oasis is dying with so many books. The battery drains like crazy and it does not last one day without even reading. I think the device is trying to sort out those books in heavy duty mode and it takes all the battery power.
So, I have to remove a lot of books eventually.
Steve H. says
I’ve got thousands of books on my Oasis…no battery drain at all. Performance is also quick. The only thing that gets slow is searching for words or terms through the entire on board library; but that’s to be expected.
I would prefer an SD card in order to have greater storage space (think 128 GB). Your argument is good for hobby reading, but it doesn’t really scale for technical reading.
For technical reading (in my case, for structural engineering), it is not uncommon for some reference books or standards PDF’s to be 100 MB each, and having all of them handy is useful as different projects may require different references.
While it is true that PDF’s are difficult to read on the smaller e-readers, larger e-readers like the Boox Note do not include SD card slots either.
Well I’m still running a gen1 Kindle Keyboard, still loving it, never deleted a book (that wasn’t absolutely terrible) and have only two thirds filled it and I read on it a LOT! I don’t know how much space it actually has but for me it’s been plenty.
2020 is the year it might finally break though, there are pressure cracks in the plastic casing around the screen but I will read until it shatters! 💪🏻
My problem is is that I do not know how to remove any books I have read. So I have a lot on my kindle that have been read and still taking up space. I have not figured out how to remove or store in the cloud
Just long-press a book from the homescreen or library view and choose “Remove from Device” or “Remove Download” with the newer firmware.
Carl Andrews says
I have several ereaders. One is a 32G kindle. 32G is not enough. I want my entire Library not just what i am currently reading. My ereader is my library. Entertainment. Reference. I work with computers and want all of my books with me at all times. I want a 1TB ereader!
I have an older paperwhite I’ve not used much till now because I used my voyage until it recently quit charging. I have 1,015 mb free on my PW. While I have 3 or 4 thousand books, I probably have under 100 downloaded. Some are library books and some are Kindle Unlimited, so I keep more downloaded in case I’m not in the mood for the borrowed books. I don’t want to turn on my wifi because those books will disappear if they are due once that wifi comes on.
I have 8gb Kindle PW and I can say that’s quite enough storage for me. I put mangas and normal size ebooks on my Kindle. Once I finished a manga series, I will immediately delete it from my device as they are the one that usually take larger space. With the normal ebooks, I do some kind of inventory like once or twice a month. I will remove those ebooks I have finished reading and don’t have a plan on rereading them.
I have about 3,500 books taking up 3.7GB on a micro-SD card on My Onyx Boox Monte Cristo 4. Given the low cost of storage, I see no reason not to keep my whole book collection on there at all times.
Sportbike Mike says
I have the 4g 32gb Oasis 3. All my school stuff is in PDF format and all of it has been downloaded. Between books, school stuff and a few audiobooks I have over a thousand items on my Kindle and it still has 26gb left. That means I’ve used approximately 6gigs including the operating system and approximately 900 PDFs of varying lengths. I see no reason this thing needs to have 32gb of storage, but I suppose I’d feel scammed paying $350 for a device with 8gb of storage.
Bernard Spilsbury says
I use the cloud. Buut I don’t trust it. So I download everything, then I copy it from my Kindle to an external hard disk (just in case),
But unlike the one respondent, I detest physical books, and replace them by digital books wherever possible. I dislike the smell of old paper. My office is paperless and I scan everything.
I have a 32 gig Kindle Paperwhite (and an old first generation paperwhite for the beach).
Farhan Daud says
I honestly havev got no idea why someone would need more than 1 GB. Even that much is not necessary if you read epub, mobi or azw formats. I always have more than 50 ebooks in my kindle and kobo–with some pdfs–and I never could make it to 1 GB. If you read a lot of graphic novels, more space is needed, but then again, why would someone read graphic novel on a screen smaller than 10 inch?
Flo Adar says
I have 3 Fire ereaders but read larger formats on my Surface laptop 2 of which I have added SD cards to. The 3rd one is an old model which doesn’t have that option. I must have over 500 ebooks on these 3 Fires and I keep them because I’m afraid I will lose them in the cloud. Now that I’ve read your article, I feel great since I know that as much as I put on them, I will never read all of these ebooks and will never run out of space. What I don’t like, I will remove at once. Even some ebooks that don’t really grab me, I will remove. So thanks for the article. Very helpful.
I’ve never come anyway near filling the 8gb on my Aura one. I only keep current and pending reads on it.
All others apart from library loans are kept within Calibre on my PC and backed up to a HDD with my other backups.
I see no point in paying for extra memory which may never be used and could well be lost or subject to electronic failure.
The Colourful Jester says
Nearly filled my 32GB paperwhite. Decided to delete almost all manga. The books and few manga left take almost 8GB. As I have wifi only I like having everything downloaded so I can pick whatever I want at whimsy. Would almost like 64GB so I can redownload all my manga, so I can pick everything at whimsy.
Anyone who says they need more than 2-4gb are people who just want more for no reason other than its better than having less. PDF files and comics are useless on any reader and are ideally suited for tablets or computers. This would be the same as booting up your PC to read a book. Ridiculous isn’t it?
I’ve long since thought all these higher levels of storage are a total waste and just an excuse for higher prices. I’m definitely a digi-hoarder, but my laptop and external hard drives for back up work very well for that purpose. I tend to have about 100 or so books on my old and (literally!) crumbling kobo at a time and delete them off once I’ve read them.
I have 8 GB readers and end up having almost all storage used. With my Fire, I save the books for that which are color, nonfiction, cookbooks, fanfiction, comics – rest of room is usually games. With Paperwhites it’s the fiction books for the most part
“Seem to think” is a rather condescending turn of phrase when these are all personal preferences. I don’t *need* an ereader at all! But I do prefer to have as much storage as possible. I don’t like to rely on cloud storage (connectivity and organizational reasons), and I prefer to keep as much content, including read content, on my device as I can, because I’ve always been kind of a compulsive mood rereader. I used to bring a whole suitcase just for rereading books on family vacations when I was a kid. This is a lot more convenient and reasonable than that, and I like knowing I can suddenly get a craving for a book I haven’t thought of since I was a teenager and read it RIGHT THEN, without loading it to the device or using cloud storage. (Not to mention that I can have as many options as I want for new content available, too.) If people find that weird, I understand. But it’s my device and what I prefer. Yes, I have maxed out 8 gb devices multiple times.
My Boox Nova Pro has 32GB of storage of which I am using 4.95GB. Of course the Nova Pro is essentially an eInk Table, I only have 637MB of Books on the device.
Micah B. Haber says
In my experience, with both a Kindle Keyboard and a Kindle Paperwhite 3, the Kindle OS becomes progressively unstable when a large number of books (over 3GB at least), and several pages of collections are on the device. I’ve had to do at least one factory reset on each of them in the past, and Amazon makes it very, very tedious to re-download books, recreate collection folders, and then add everything to their appropriate folder. It’s impossible to know what’s on your device when you have close to 1,000 books, PDFs, etc. anyways, and “Contents and Devices” on Amazon is a clunky headache. I’ve given up on keeping my Kindle in any sort of order, and I’ve transitioned over the past couple years to nearly 100% physical books, because at least I can organize those and see what I have in a minute or two.
Perhaps this compulsion for mega eBook storage space is analogous to the massive storing of toilet paper during the Covid-19 pandemic?
My 8GB Kobo Aura H2O has over 6GB free; my 2GB Kobo Glo is half-full.
Most of that is Pocket articles, which is main reason I use them; I only have a few books loaded on the Glo ready for my next holiday…whenever that is! At home I tend to read physical books.
Steve H. says
Yeah, Kobo is great for Pocket articles. I have more than I have books. A real storage issue.
I have had 500 sideloaded books (250 Mb) in my Nook Glowlight 3 for the last 3 years. Though I cannot sort them in shelves, I navigate them by grouping them by author.
Yesterday I applied the latest software update, and though all the books are still there when I connect to a computer and look inside the folder, the nook library only shows 250 titles and no more. Even the search function says that books are not there.
I have deleted the MyFiles folder emptied the trash (via my mac), rebooted, put back all the books. But still it doesn’t seem to detect more than 250.
Sounds like a Nook, all right…
On my Kindle Paperwhite, I have hundreds of books but I only have a little over 1 GB of space used with 2.5 free space. I doubt I’ll ever run out of room. I keep my digital comics and PDFs on my 10″ Samsung tablet, and that is using roughly 15 GBs on my SD card.
I have a bout 1000 books on a 2 GB Kindle. So far at the pace I’m reading three books per month for the past three years. Which translates to about 100 books reading about three hours a day. Just puts the ridiculousness of 32 GB storage in perspective
The argument like you said is PDFs. You can view PDFs reasonably well by using the tablet in landscape mode. Not a perfect solution but it works.
That being said I consider 8GB enough for almost any purpose / use case.
I had up until yesterday a PW 3 with 2.67 Gigs free out of 4 available. Most of that was OS. I use KU a lot so books never stay on my device a lot. I just got a PW4 on sale refurbished and it has 32 Gigs. I’ll never fill it since I don’t do audio books/manga/PDFs. Just ebooks. It was the sale price and selling my old kindle that made me decide to get this model. There was no sale for the 8 gig model or I would have gotten that if cheaper.