These days, more and more bibliophiles, seniors among them, are swapping their paper books for e-book readers, also called e-readers. These portable electronic devices are used to read digital books, magazines and newspapers. E-readers are similar to tablet computers, like Apple’s iPad, but are more appropriate for reading due to their longer battery life and better screen readability, especially in bright sunshine.
There are many advantages to using an e-reader over a paper book, especially for seniors. When shopping for this handy device, be on the lookout for these elder-friendly features:
Lightweight Design: E-readers eliminate the need to lug around heavy books. If you plan to carry around your e-reader a lot, or are concerned that you may tire from holding the device, you’ll want to take its weight into consideration. Although e-readers are relatively light, weight varies among the different options.
Large Screen: Unfortunately, there is a trade-off between weight and screen size: the lighter the e-reader the more likely it is to have a smaller screen. For example, the Kindle from Amazon has a 6 inch (diagonal) screen and weighs only 8.5 ounces; the Kindle DX has a much larger 9.7” screen, but weighs almost 19 oz. If failing eyesight is a primary concern, then opt for the device with the larger screen over the lighter weight. A larger screen is also better for reading graphic-heavy books (like an atlas) and magazines.
Reading Aides: Virtually all e-readers offer features that make reading easier, such as zooming and adjustable fonts.
Large On-Screen Icons: The icons presented on an e-reader’s screen enables you to navigate through menus. The larger the icons, the easier they are to use.
High Resolutions and Screen Contrast: If an e-reader’s resolution is low, it won’t matter how large the screen is because the text will appear blurry. And blurry text can bring on eye strain and fatigue. Look for high screen resolutions and contrast to ensure that the display text and graphics are crisp.
Shatter-Proof Screen: To protect your new e-reader from accidental drops, look for an e-reader with a shatter-proof screen. No device can be shielded from every peril, like an energetic four year-old grandchild stomping on it, but a shatter-proof screen will provide protection in most circumstances.
Touch Screen Technology: Seniors who have trouble pushing small buttons may find it easier to use a touch screen for tasks such as volume control and navigation. Several models offer touch screen technology, so shoppers have plenty of choice.
Audio Capabilities: E-readers with audiobook or text-to-speech capabilities are helpful for seniors who need to rest their eyes from time to time.
Do you have an e-reader? What has your experience been? We’d love to hear your thoughts, so be sure to leave a comment.