The submarine fleet's new e-reader for comes with 300 books — a figure that won't change, because the devices can't access the Internet to download more material. (Findaway World)
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More nerds are coming to the submarine force.
Well, NeRD to be sure, shorthand for the new tablet reader known as the Navy e-Reading Device, packed with pleasure reading that is headed for every sub in the fleet.
Each sub will receive five of the secure e-readers loaded with 300 titles, Navy Installations Command’s General Library Program said. The e-readers will be available for sailors to check out from their library officer.
The NeRD will have titles ranging from the Chief of Naval Operations’ professional reading list — “SEAL of Honor” and “Navigating the Seven Seas” among them — to popular fiction, such as “ Life of Pi” and “Ender’s Game,” to holy books, including the Bible (King James version), Koran and Book of Mormon.
The first 385 e-readers — priced at about $3,000 a pop including the rights to all the books loaded on it — have some limitations, officials say.
“This is our first run at it,” said Nilya Carrato, an official with the Navy’s library program. “So for NeRD 1.0, the titles won’t change because it can’t connect to the Internet and can’t do a digital push.”
Carrato said the program would be looking for feedback from sailors about the NeRD, especially how much they used it.
The titles comprise about 45 percent nonfiction and 55 percent fiction, Carrato said. A sampling:
■Public-domain classics: “Ulysses” (James Joyce); “The Art of War” (Sun Tzu); “Pride and Prejudice” (Jane Austin); “Don Quixote” (Miguel de Cervantes); “Heart of Darkness” (Joseph Conrad).
■Fiction and fantasy: “The Lord of the Rings” (J.R.R. Tolkien); “Game of Thrones” (George R.R. Martin); “Slaughterhouse Five” (Kurt Vonnegut); “Blood Meridian” (Cormac McCarthy); “The Stand” (Stephen King).
■Nonfiction: “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test” (Tom Wolfe); “Halsey’s Typhoon” (Tom Clavin); “Band of Brothers” (Stephen Ambrose); “Into the Wild” (Jon Krakauer); “Guns of August” (Barbara Tuchman).
The device, made by the Ohio-based Findaway World, looks and functions like an Amazon Kindle. The Navy had Findaway build the NeRD to its own specifications, eliminating functions such as a Wi-Fi access and digital cameras that pose a security risk in a submarine, where crews are allowed to store classified materials, including in berthing areas. .
Carrato said the library would explore upgrades in the future but is waiting to see how the first devices are received.
“There is some room to tweak,” she said.
The program may eventually make it to the rest of the fleet, Carrato said, but it started in the sub fleet because the vessels don’t have storage space for hard copies. The surface fleet has fewer restrictions on Web connectivity and on board technology.
The Navy first explored this idea two years ago when it put out a request for information on creating an e-reader library, followed by a request for proposal for its own device.
The NeRDs should be on board subs any day, she said.