The 8 Best E-Readers to Buy for Seniors in 2019

With large fonts and simplified menus, these e-readers are perfect for seniors

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The Rundown

Our Top Picks

Most Popular: Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (Previous Generation)

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite
Courtesy of Amazon.com
4.4

Amazon’s Kindle Paperwhite is the part of in the company’s line of wildly successful e-reader products. Available in both black and white, the Paperwhite offers a beautiful 300 pixel-per-inch (PPI) e-ink display that’s clear and easy to decipher. Seniors will take special note of the ability to increase (and decrease) font size to assist while reading and the lack of glare on the display directly in sunlight with the e-ink screen that reads like paper.

At just 7.2 ounces in weight, the Paperwhite is easily held in one hand and its six-inch display is more than large enough to read dozens of words on a page, no matter what font size you select. With a battery life that can last up to six weeks on a single charge and a display light that won’t fatigue your eyes in the dark, the Paperwhite is an outstanding e-reader choice for seniors.

Best Overall: All-New Amazon Kindle Paperwhite

When it comes to e-readers, the single best choice for seniors — and most people, for that matter — is the newest Amazon Kindle Paperwhite. The Kindle Paperwhite takes the accessibility of the Kindle and improves it dramatically with backlighting, better readability, waterproofing, and more. The first aspect seniors may appreciate is the Paperwhite’s 300 pixel-per-inch screen, which offers clear and glare-free reading, even in sunlight. In the settings, you also have the ability to increase or decrease the text size for more comfortable reading.

If you like to spend time near the beach or pool, the Paperwhite is waterproof and can survive immersion in up to two meters of fresh water for up to one hour. And for those that enjoy listening to audiobooks, the Paperwhite has you covered with Audible compatibility and the ability to switch seamlessly between reading the book version and listening to the audiobook version of a title. The battery also lasts for up to two weeks on a single charge.

Best Budget: Barnes and Noble Nook 7-Inch Tablet (2018 Edition)

Barnes and Noble Nook

 Barnes and Noble

When it comes to buying books, Barnes & Noble is one of the few brands outside of Amazon that has offered a dependable destination for both physical and digital books. The newest Nook tablet has become the best budget pick for e-readers due to its pared-down price, which makes it an excellent value for a full-featured e-reader. On top of the low base price, the Nook’s vast e-book library has more than a million titles that cost $5 or less, so you won’t even have to spend much to fill out your digital library.

The Nook’s screen is a seven-inch IPS display optimized for reading, and it has 16GB of internal storage (double the previous model), so you can keep lots of books and other media on your device. Because the Nook runs on Android Oreo software, you can also access other apps, games, movies, and songs from the Google Play store. Battery life is not the greatest at roughly 7 hours, but if you charge the device every two days, you’ll likely be fine.

Best Features: Amazon Fire HD 8

For those who want a combination e-reader and tablet, Amazon’s Fire HD8 is the absolute best choice at a very wallet-friendly price. This device is primarily a tablet, but unlike many of its competitors, it includes several of the best features from the company’s dedicated e-reader lineup. The built-in Kindle app is ideal for reading, with easy font resizing functions that can be adjusted for your comfort. Readers can also choose from four different background colors on the eight-inch HD display, each of which is designed to reduce eye fatigue.

Subscribing to a Prime membership opens the door to thousands of books and magazines that can be individually purchased on Amazon, typically for less than the cost of the printed book. More voracious readers can also subscribe to Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited plan for $9.99 per month, which expands the library by more than a million books and lets you read as many as you want without paying for each separate title.

The Amazon Fire HD 8 also offers access to hundreds of thousands of apps beyond its Kindle functions. From games to news, weather, sports, email and more, there’s something for everyone — plus, the ten-hour battery life lets you enjoy your media for longer between charges. Older users will love hands-free Alexa, which allows you to use your voice to start an audiobook, set an alert, play a TV show, and much more. This tablet comes in four different colors and a choice of 16GB or 32GB of storage. 

Best Apple E-Reader: Apple iPad (2018)

Apple iPad

 Apple

Over the years, the Apple iPad has become a somewhat niche device for light browsing and games at home or a lightweight work tool. But not enough people appreciate that it’s also a great e-reader, especially for seniors who want a larger and more colorful screen than most e-readers offer. The newest base model of the iPad costs $329 and lets you read books from most ebook providers, including Apple Books, Kindle, Google Play Books, Bookari, and Scribd. The iPad’s screen is 9.7 inches with 264 pixels-per-inch resolution, so it’s good for reading, watching videos, browsing the web, and much more. It weighs about one pound, which is not light by e-reader standards but is still light enough to hold for long periods.

When you’re not reading, the iPad also includes an 8MP back camera for taking photos on the go and a 1.2MP front camera for selfies or FaceTime video calls with the grandkids. The device can last about 10 hours on a single charge for reading, surfing the web, watching movies, and more.

Best Splurge: Kindle Oasis

Because Amazon is the de facto leader in the e-reader space, it’s natural for them to also offer the most souped-up version on the market. The new Kindle Oasis is the most premium e-reader offered by Amazon and a great choice for seniors who want a slightly larger screen than the Kindle Paperwhite. The Oasis has a seven-inch E Ink Carta screen that displays text at a crisp 300 pixels-per-inch resolution, and you can count on great readability that won’t hurt your eyes. 

It weighs about half a pound, so it’s definitely light enough to hold for long periods. If you prefer audiobooks, you can also pair Bluetooth headphones with the Oasis and listen to books from Audible, the world’s largest library of audiobooks. At $249 for the base model and $349 for the most expensive version, the Oasis can be a costly purchase. For some, buying a full-fledged tablet like an iPad may make more sense if you think you’d use the expanded set of features. But if you’re in search of the best e-reading experience with a display that reads like real paper, the Oasis will serve you well.

Best Waterproof: Kobo Aura H2O Edition 2

If you like to read by the pool or on the beach, the last thing you want to worry about is water damage to your e-reader. Fortunately, the Kobo Aura H2O Edition 2 is waterproof with an IPX8 rating, meaning it can survive being immersed for up to 60 minutes in two meters of water. On top of the waterproof features, the Kobo Aura H2O Edition 2 has a 6.8-inch Carta E Ink touchscreen with 265 pixels-per-inch resolution, 8GB of internal storage, and ComfortLight PRO technology that reduces blue-light exposure and helps ease you into sleep when you are reading in bed. We also like this model because it offers TypeGenius, a feature that lets you choose from more than 50 font sizes and 11 font types for a customized reading experience.

Best Big Screen: Onyx BOOX Note S

While BOOX may be a name that doesn’t offer the same recognition as Amazon’s Kindle line in the U.S., the Note S e-reader offers a whopping 9.7-inch e-ink display. For seniors, this easily equates to larger fonts and more reading done on a single screen. Beyond reading various e-book formats, the Note S has the capability to hold audiobooks as well since it comes with a 3.5mm headphone jack. The N96 takes things up another notch with the inclusion of some Android-specific features, including an email app, photo gallery, clock, calendar, and Internet browser that might not be as functional in black and white, but it’s a nice addition regardless. The N96 also includes a stylus for writing directly on the screen for taking notes while reading or for use with other apps downloaded directly from Google's Play Store. With a battery life that can last for weeks without a recharge, the Note S might be small on name recognition, but it’s big on both display size and features.

Tested by

How We Tested

Our reviewers spent 21 hours testing one of the most popular e-readers for seniors available. To really get the full experience, our testers used this e-reader night and day, both at home and on the go. We asked our reviewers to consider the most important features when using this e-reader, from its design to its display quality. We've outlined the key takeaways here so that you, too, know what to look for when shopping.

What to Look for in an E-Reader for Seniors

Size and weight - If you’re looking for an e-reader for a senior, size and weight are things to take into consideration. Someone having trouble with fine motor control should consider a larger device with a big screen. If that’s not a problem, look into getting a lighter device so it doesn’t become burdensome to hold.

Contrast and backlight - Many seniors have eyesight trouble, so you want to make sure the e-reader you choose has great contrast. You should also consider a model with a backlight, which makes reading easier regardless of lighting conditions.

Text size - One of the advantages of e-readers — as opposed to traditional books — is that you can make the text much larger. It’s worth playing around with different e-readers to ensure that the text size is big enough for you (or the the senior in your life) to read.


Test Results: Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (Best Overall)

4.4

What We Like

  • Long battery life

  • Easy to use

  • Great screen quality

What We Don't Like

  • Awkward size

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite
Amazon Kindle Paperwhite parts
Amazon Kindle Paperwhite bottom
Amazon Kindle Paperwhite screen
Amazon Kindle Paperwhite bottom

This e-reader impressed our testers with its “incredible” battery life, easy-to-use navigation, expansive store, and Goodreads integration. Its backlight was also a plus: “I usually read using a lamp in order to avoid the blue light from a screen,” explained one reviewer. “But when I needed to, I always had the option to turn on the backlight — it was bright enough to be able to read in a completely dark room, but also had the nice granularity to be able to read it without a distractingly bright light being on.”

Although our reviewers thought that this Kindle was lightweight, its size was slightly awkward: “It's not really necessary to hold it in two hands, but it's also not comfortable to hold in just one,” observed one tester.