The 7 Best E-Readers for Seniors in 2021

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

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

The Rundown
A lightweight e-reader with a crisp display, excellent battery life, and up to 32 GB of storage space.
Combines the wide versatility of a tablet with the customizable text features of a dedicated e-reader.
A pared-down, easy-to-use ereader that works extremely well.
The luxury car of ereaders.
Best Large Screen:
Kobo Forma at Amazon
Ultra-slim design makes it lightweight and very comfortable to hold, and it can support both landscape and portrait orientation depending on how you like to read.
Best for Library Borrowing:
Kobo Nia at Walmart
Built-in public library borrowing through OverDrive.
The GlowLight 3 comes with two pairs of buttons on each side of the bezel making page flipping a breeze.

E-readers are truly a book lover’s best friend, allowing you to store thousands of books in a single compact device. And with the newest models sporting waterproof builds and backlit displays, you can read in low light without straining your eyes or take your book to the beach without ruining the pages. Many even let you translate, highlight, or look up the definitions of words with a single touch.

E-readers are great devices for readers of any age, but they include some features that make them especially convenient for older adults. Nearly all of them come with robust accessibility options that let you change the size or boldness of the font, so each page is comfortable to read. They also tend to be streamlined devices with interfaces that are easy to set up and navigate.

Whether you’re shopping for yourself or for a book lover in your life, we’ve done the research to find the best e-readers for seniors. You can also check out our more general list of the best e-readers.

Best Overall: Amazon Kindle Paperwhite 2018

What We Like
  • Waterproof

  • Screen looks like paper

  • Integration with Audible audiobooks

What We Don't Like
  • Cheaper model has built-in ads

This 2018 version of the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite is a lightweight e-reader with a crisp display, excellent battery life, and up to 32 GB of storage space. With adjustable text sizes, text boldness, and screen brightness, you can customize your book’s text for the most comfortable reading experience. The 300 dpi screen looks like paper and remains glare-free even in direct sunlight, and at 6.6 x 4.6 inches, it’s also small enough to comfortably hold in one hand. 

It also has a few extra features that make this particular Kindle our top choice. One is its waterproof design, which lets you read anywhere without worrying that a splash or spill will ruin your device. Another is its integration with Audible, Amazon’s audiobook platform. For certain titles, the Kindle paperwhite allows you to seamlessly switch between reading and listening to the text. This is a unique feature that, combined with solid accessibility features and a user-friendly interface, makes the Kindle Paperwhite our favorite e-reader for seniors.

"Setting the Paperwhite up was very easy and user-friendly. It flits through the general settings, such as language selection, and then boots up, providing an easy bar to show its progress." — Rebecca Isaacs, Product Tester

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite 2018

Lifewire / Rebecca Isaacs

Best Features: Amazon Fire HD 8 (10th Generation) Tablet

All-New Fire HD 8 Tablet
What We Like
  • Budget price

  • Wider array of tablet features

  • Alexa compatibility

What We Don't Like
  • Screen does not read like paper

  • Limited processing power

The Amazon Fire HD 8 combines the wide versatility of a tablet with the customizable text features of a dedicated e-reader. If you want to read ebooks and also browse the internet, use social media, or watch your favorite streaming services, the Fire HD 8 is an inexpensive and user-friendly option that can do all of the above. The eight-inch, high-definition screen is great for watching video and is a comfortable size for reading. This tablet also has the Alexa virtual assistant built in so you can ask questions, open apps, and queue up your favorite media using voice commands. 

This tablet comes with a built-in Kindle app that includes accessibility features like adjustable text size and background colors that are easy on the eyes. An Amazon Prime membership will also give you access to Amazon’s huge library of Kindle e-books. Purchase individual books directly from Amazon or subscribe to Kindle Unlimited and download as many books as you like for a flat monthly subscription fee. This Fire HD8 is available with either 32 or 64 GB of storage and comes in four different colors.  

"Navigating the menus of the Fire HD 8 is mostly enjoyable, but multitasking becomes problematic if you’re used to the speed and fluidity of an iPad." — Jordan Oloman, Product Tester

Amazon Fire HD 10 Review

Lifewire / Jordan Oloman 

Best Essentials: Amazon Kindle (2019)

What We Like
  • Front-lit display

  • Battery lasts for weeks between charges

  • Integration with Audible audiobooks

What We Don't Like
  • Lower-resolution screen

The Amazon Kindle 2019 is a pared-down, easy-to-use e-reader that works extremely well. If you don’t need any extra apps or special features and just want to feel like you’re reading a paper book, this device is for you. The 8GB of built in storage lets you carry a library’s worth of books in this 4.5 x 6.3-inch device. The Kindle allows you to change the size of the text and adjust the brightness of the front light for comfortable reading in low light. The screen also looks like paper (not like a typical tablet screen), so you can read in direct sunlight without eye strain or screen glare. Translate or look up the definitions of words simply by touching them on the page. The screen on this Kindle is slightly lower resolution at 167 dpi, but because the screen is mainly displaying text, an ultra-sharp display isn’t necessary. 

This device’s streamlined design makes it super easy to use and takes only minutes to set up. Like other Amazon Kindle devices, the 2019 model gives you instant access to Amazon’s library of Kindle e-books and Audible audiobooks. It also supports seamless switching between reading and listening to the text. Note that these services require you to individually purchase books through Amazon or loan them from your public library. You can also enjoy unlimited browsing and listening with a monthly subscription to Kindle Unlimited and Audible Unlimited. 

"Finding books is very easy. Tapping the Kindle store button (aptly shaped like a shopping cart), shows you all your options." — Rebecca Isaacs, Product Tester

Kindle (2019)

Lifewire 

Best Splurge: Amazon Kindle Oasis 2019

What We Like
  • Waterproof

  • Adjustable light temperature

  • Ergonomic design

What We Don't Like
  • More expensive

  • Cheaper model has built-in ads

The Amazon Kindle Oasis from 2019 is the luxury car of e-readers. It’s on the pricier end for a device like this, but it has a slightly larger seven-inch display and is designed to be read in all conditions. The adjustable front light changes the color of your page from bright white to warm amber, which is easier on the eyes when reading in the dark. You can even set it so that the light adjusts automatically at night. And, like the other newer Kindle models, the Oasis has an IPX8 rating that makes it waterproof up to two meters. Take your Oasis to the beach, the pool, or the bath without worry. 

In terms of design, the Oasis is the most ergonomic Kindle in Amazon’s lineup. It has a grip on the back and a wider bezel on the right side of the screen that make it easier to hold. And if you prefer buttons to touch screen controls, the Oasis has physical page turn buttons on the right side. It’s available with either 8 or 32 GB of storage and comes in gray and gold.

"Functionally, we loved the addition of the grip. The wedge naturally shifts the weight of the device into your palm for a comfortable grip." — Sandra Stafford, Product Tester

Kindle Oasis (2019)

Lifewire / Sandra Stafford 

Best Large Screen: Kobo Forma

Kobo Forma
What We Like
  • 8-inch display at 300ppi

  • Adjustable light temperature

  • Waterproof

What We Don't Like
  • More expensive

  • No audiobook support

Amazon’s Kindle devices have come to dominate the e-reader market, but if you aren’t already in the Amazon ecosystem of services and would prefer an alternative, Kobo produces a line of high-quality e-readers that are separate from the Kindle world. 

The Forma is their largest model, offering a spacious eight-inch screen with 300ppi resolution. Like other high-end e-readers, the Kobo Forma’s display is grayscale and looks like paper, remaining glare-free even in direct sunlight. The front light gently illuminates the screen for comfortable low-light reading, and the light temperature is adjustable from warm to cool. Despite the large screen size, the Forma’s ultra-slim design makes it lightweight and very comfortable to hold, and it can support both landscape and portrait orientation depending on how you like to read. 

"The touchscreen page-turn prompts are also very responsive. I chose to turn off touch prompts and stick with swiping motions only." — Yoona Wagener, Product Tester

Kobo Forma

Lifewire / Yoona Wagener

Best for Library Borrowing: Kobo Nia

Kobo Nia
What We Like
  • Adjustable display brightness

  • Excellent battery life

  • Streamlines public library borrowing

What We Don't Like
  • Less ergonomic design

Featuring a six-inch glare-free display, the Nia is the most portable device in the Kobo lineup. And while many other e-readers can support library lending, the Nia puts this feature front and center with built-in public library borrowing through OverDrive. If you prefer borrowing to buying, other e-readers can complicate this process by only supporting certain kinds of ebook file formats. The Nia has wide format compatibility and simplifies the borrowing process by allowing you to browse your local library’s collection right on your device. If you prefer to buy, it also includes access to millions of titles in the Kobo eBookstore.

The Nia features excellent battery life, an adjustable ComfortLight display brightness setting, and enough storage for 6,000 e-books. It has a typical tablet shape and relatively small bezels, which makes it travel-friendly but not quite as ergonomic.

"One of the coolest features I fell in love with was the OverDrive app on the Kobo Nia, which allows you to connect with an online library feature to check out books through the built-in Wi-Fi feature." — Rebecca Isaacs, Product Tester

 Kobo Nia E-Reader

Rebecca Isaacs / Lifewire

Best Buttons: Barnes & Noble Nook GlowLight3

Barnes & Noble NOOK GlowLight 3
What We Like
  • Smooth plastic design

  • Warm light to ease blue light reading

  • Customizable display

  • Bezel buttons for easy reading

  • Higher pixel density

What We Don't Like
  • Disjointed home page

  • Lower battery life

  • Not waterproof

  • Slow processor

With a six-inch screen, the Nook GlowLight 3 is a great option for a reasonably priced e-reader. It incorporates Ambien GlowLight technology to block out blue light while allowing for hours of bedtime reading on a crisp, clear 300ppi display. 8GB of storage will hold thousands of books and can be easily stored on a cloud to create a digital library for subway commutes or flights. 

Perhaps the most striking advantage is that it boasts a total of six buttons: two page-turning buttons on the left and right bezel, the power button up top, and the Home button on the bottom that can also activate the GlowLight feature. Gripping the device is comfortable and those who have issues interacting with touchscreen will find using this e-reader a breeze.

"Ambient technology ensures that you not only have just a light, but you can adjust the warmth to your liking." Rebecca Isaacs, Product Tester

Barnes & Noble Nook GlowLight 3

Lifewire / Rebecca Isaacs

Final Verdict

Our favorite e-reader is the 2018 Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (view at Amazon). It has lots of text customization options, a waterproof build, and support for Audible audiobooks so you can switch seamlessly between reading and listening. If you’re able to splurge, then we’d recommend checking out the Kindle Oasis (view at Amazon), which is a larger device that’s super comfortable to hold and has a few more bells and whistles.

About Our Trusted Experts

Emmeline Kaser is a former editor of Lifewire’s product round-ups and reviews. She has several years of experience researching and writing about consumer tech, including e-readers.

Rebecaa Isaacs has been writing for Lifewire since 2019 and has reviewed a large chunk of the e-readers on this roundup. As an avid reader herself, she owns a variety of Kindle devices.

Jordan Oloman is a Newcastle-based tech writer whose work has appeared in PC Gamer, TechRadar, Eurogamer, IGN, and GamesRadar. He tested the Amazon Fire HD 8, noting how easy it was to use the screen and navigate menus.

Sandra Stafford is a writer who specializes in tech and writes about all sorts of gadgets, including tactical flashlights, blue light-blocking glasses, and e-readers.

Yoona Wagener has a background in content and technical writing. She tested the Kobo Forma on our list, and appreciated how responsive the touchscreen page-turn prompts were.

FAQs

Will an e-reader save you money?
While the price gap between paperbacks and e-books has diminished somewhat in recent years, e-books are still almost universally cheaper, and there are tons of programs from various retailers and via various apps for getting free e-books weekly or monthly, or getting several as part of a sign-up incentive. Beyond that, there are apps like Scribd that offer unlimited access to a huge library of e-books (as well as magazines, audiobooks, and podcasts) for a single low monthly fee.

Should you buy an e-reader or tablet?
Deciding between an e-reader or tablet is largely about use case. If you already have a great smartphone, a lot of the functions of a fully featured tablet will probably be redundant, while an e-reader will offer a specialized device far superior for reading. On the other hand, if you're looking for a connected device for a wide variety of functions, a tablet is definitely the way to go.

What are the best places to get e-books?
Beyond the aforementioned Scribd, there are a number of great outlets to pick up books for your e-reader. There's the market leading Kindle app, of course, as well as Project Gutenberg, which hosts thousands of free e-books. On the paid side, some of the biggest available libraries are on Apple Books, eBooks.com, and Barnes and Noble's online bookstore.

Kindle Paperwhite (7th Generation)

Lifewire 

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.

Barnes & Noble Nook GlowLight 3

Lifewire / Rebecca Isaacs

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.

Was this page helpful?