The 7 Best E-Readers to Buy for Seniors in 2018

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

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While there’s always a time and place for paperback or hardcover books, e-readers have stolen the limelight with their fast downloads and ability to store thousands of titles in a slim package. Whether you’re looking for the latest James Patterson thriller, a romance novel or an autobiography of your favorite star, there’s no better way to store everything than an e-reader. With large fonts and simplified menus, seniors will love the lengthy battery life and ease-of-use. Here’s our list of some of the best e-readers for seniors to consider.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Amazon Kindle Paperwhite

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite
Courtesy of Amazon.com
4.4

Amazon’s Kindle Paperwhite is the latest 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 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 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 Budget: Amazon Kindle

The least expensive Amazon Kindle, properly known as the Kindle, removes the display light that assists with reading in the dark, which leaves a bedside lamp necessary for nighttime reading. Fortunately, daytime reading is just as easy as ever with a no-glare screen that works perfectly even in direct sunlight.

The six-inch display pairs with sharp, dark on-screen text that reads exactly like a newspaper and reduces eye-strain, which is ideal for an older community that might already be suffering from reduced vision. Furthermore, the Kindle can store thousands of books with the ability to download new books in under 60 seconds wirelessly through its on-board WiFi capability.

Best Battery Life: Barnes & Noble NOOK Glowlight Plus

Both ad-free and waterproof, the real highlight of the Barnes & Noble NOOK Glowlight Plus e-reader is the six weeks of battery life on a single charge. Paired with a 300 pixel-per-inch display and glare-free screen even in direct sunlight, the GlowLight Plus is the pinnacle of Barnes & Noble’s e-reader experience that has long competed against the Kindle giant. First released in 2015, the aluminum-based, 6.9-ounce GlowLight Plus is more than light enough for one-handed reading. Unlike Amazon’s plastic build, the aluminum material can be a little slippery, but that’s OK since this waterproof device can survive a quick swim in a pool, ocean or bathtub. Turning on the light for nighttime reading is easily done by holding the “n” button on the bottom of the device, making it ideal for seniors to read in the evening. Capable of holding thousands of books, loading can be directly from the device, a computer or inside one of Barnes & Nobles brick-and-mortar locations.

Best Waterproof: Kobo Aura H20

Kobo’s Aura H20 waterproof e-reader is another great e-reader choice and with a 6.8-inch display, there’s extra real estate for larger fonts and easier senior reading. The Kobo itself is IP67 compliant, meaning it can stand be in the water  (one meter deep) for up to 30 minutes. The front-mounted lights will make nighttime and daytime reading a snap and still protect against eye fatigue. Purchasing books from a computer, loading up from a local library or purchasing directly from Barnes & Noble offers a library size that rivals Amazon’s own Kindle e-book offering.

Best Big Screen: Onyx BOOX Note S

While Onyx may be a name that doesn’t offer the same recognition as Amazon’s Kindle line in the U.S., the BOOX 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 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.

Best Splurge: Kindle Oasis

The crème-de-la-crème of Amazon’s current Kindle lineup, the Kindle Oasis is a six-inch e-reader with a high-resolution display, WiFi and a fresh design. The big price tag is courtesy of a truly thin design measuring a nominal 3.4 millimeters at its thinnest point while still offering physical page turn buttons. While that alone isn't enough to justify the price tag, the inclusion of a battery cover that can extend the total battery life of the Oasis to more than two months on a single charge might convince your wallet. For seniors who might forget to charge monthly, this is without question a beneficial addition. With more than 4GB of onboard storage, there’s enough room for thousands of books and they all can be read through a varied set of font sizes and types to find which works best with a diverse degree of eyesight.

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.