Kobo, Kindle, Nook… we are familiar with the names, but the whole concept of ereaders is still confusing and other people may be using the words differently from the way you use them.
An ereader, on the other hand, is a device dedicated to reading digital books. Where you might have an app called Amazon Kindle, Nook or Kobo on your tablet, you have a device which is itself called a Kindle, a Nook, or a Kobo reader. Basically, the ereader is a single-function device. (Although there is usually a secondary function that allows you to shop for and download new books to read on the device.)
We are all very used to multifunction electronic gadgets and it might seem strange to have something so modern which is apparently so limited. But the second big difference between a tablet and an ereader is the screen: while the tablet usually has an LCD display, an ereader has a gray-scale screen that mimics ink on paper. This e-ink screen reflects ambient light just as a page does, which puts far less strain on the eyes than reading from a computer – or tablet – screen.
This means that you can’t read from an ereader without a source of light – sunshine, a bedside lamp, or an in-built back light. Of course, you couldn’t read a book in the dark, either, so maybe this isn’t too surprising.
So, a tablet allows you to do lots of things, one of which is to use an ereader app, while both that app and a dedicated ereader device will provide an interface that allows you to access the content of a digital publication; this is usually an ePub or a mobi file – mobi is the Amazon Kindle proprietary format for ebooks – although it might be a pdf or other computer file format.
As more people get used to the different technological terminology, mix-ups will probably become less common. But for the moment, when you’re talking about ebooks and ereaders, it might just be worth checking to make sure that you and whoever is listening are on the same page – or scrolling through at the same rate!