The 6 Best E-Readers for Seniors in 2020

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

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The Rundown
"Takes the accessibility of the Kindle and improves it dramatically with backlighting, better readability, waterproofing."
"For those who want a combination e-reader and tablet…the absolute best choice at a very wallet-friendly price."
Best Essentials:
Amazon Kindle 2019 at Amazon
"It's no surprise the latest Kindle is also the best one ever released."
"Optimized for reading in all lighting conditions."
Best Apple E-Reader:
Apple iPad 10.2-inch at Best Buy
"A larger and more colorful screen than most e-readers offer."
Best Large:
Kobo Forma at Walmart
"The Kobo Forma is the biggest e-reader you can buy with its 8-inch, high-resolution display."

The best e-reader for seniors is one that has a comfortable and lightweight form-factor, large fonts, and simplified menus. A large, high-resolution screen is also an added bonus. Our top pick for the category is the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (2018) on Amazon. It's the mainstay of the Kindle line with its thin, light design, 6-inch 300ppi display, and waterproofing. It can handle plenty of e-books and has accessibility options to make it easier to read with plenty of fonts and improved backlighting.

If your needs are more general, you should take a look at our full list of the best e-readers. For everyone else, read on to see our more curated list of the best e-readers for seniors.

Best Overall: Amazon Kindle Paperwhite 2018

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 Features: Amazon Fire HD 8 Tablet

For those who want a combination e-reader and tablet, Amazon’s Fire HD 8 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 Essentials: Amazon Kindle 2019

The new-for-2019 Kindle is a beautiful option for older tech users for a variety of reasons. First off, like the rest of the Kindle line, the screen aims to mimic an actual book, not a fancy OLED display. This is great for all readers because it helps with eye fatigue, but for senior readers, it’s extra important. The new option also brings in a beautiful 4-LED front-lit screen so it’s easy to read, even at night or outside of direct lighting. With 167 PPI of resolution, the crispness gets pretty close to actual words printed on a display.

There’s 4GB of onboard storage which is plenty for thousands of full-length books, and depending on your use, you should get weeks of battery life out of this. This is all great for older readers because they won’t have to think about charging the device all the time, and they naturally won’t need to carry around thousands of books. And because the device is only about a third of an inch thick and less than half a pound in weight, it’ll be really easy to carry. The best part? At the price, it isn’t going to break the bank but offers the front-lighting and the portability of the more expensive Kindle Paperwhite.

Best Splurge: Amazon Kindle Oasis 2019

Not only does the Kindle Oasis brings millions of books to your fingertips, it's optimized for reading in all lighting conditions as well. Night Mode tints the screen yellow to make it easier to read when it gets darker, and you can manually adjust the "warmth" level of the light to match your preferences. You can even schedule it to shift during the day. This, along with the advanced e-ink technology, helps mimic the appearance of a real book. Its raised back makes it comfortable and easy to hold. 

The new Oasis is designed to be read everywhere, including in the tub, by the pool or at the beach. Its IPX8 rating means it’s built to withstand being submerged in up to two meters of water for an hour. The basic model has 8GB of storage, but a 32GB model is available for those who prefer audiobooks or don’t want to worry about space.

Best Apple E-Reader: Apple iPad 10.2-inch (2019)

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 10.2 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 Large: Kobo Forma

The Kobo Forma is an ideal e-reader for seniors. Its large, with a 8-inch display and a 1920x1440 resolution, and 300 pixels per inch (ppi) . The large, bright display allows reading under direct sunlight and at night time. For seniors, the larger panel will allow for more and bigger text to appear on screen for each page. Beyond that, the Forma is waterproof giving it an extra bit of durability and it has physical buttons which are likely to be easier for elders to handle than touchscreen.

You can read the Forma in both landscape and portrait mode, there are 11 different fonts and 50 font styles so you can get the text to what feels the most comfortable for you. The 1200mAh battery will provide weeks of battery life and you have options for 8GB and 32GB of internal storage which is enough for thousands of ebooks. It also supports microSD cards for added storage.

Final Verdict

The best e-reader to buy for seniors is the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (2018). It has a high-resolution 300ppi display, tons of fonts and accessibility options, and waterproofing for an added bit of durability. Also worth a mention is Amazon's affordable Fire HD 8 tablet. It has a full color screen rather than e-ink and better access to the web and apps.

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 senior in your life) to read.