You need sun. Your tech does not.

The Washington Post Sunday - - SUMMER BOOKS - BY HAY­LEY TSUKAYAMA hay­ley.tsukayama@wash­post.com

Few things in life say “in­dul­gence” like a bunch of good books, a beach blan­ket and a long af­ter­noon — ex­cept, per­haps, sneak­ing a de­li­ciously bad book some­where in that pile. But when you’re pack­ing up the beach bag, you may have sec­ond thoughts about throw­ing your ex­pen­sive e-reader into the mix.

You’re right to hes­i­tate. Sand, surf and sun are good for your soul, but they’re hor­ri­ble for your tech­nol­ogy. For­tu­nately, there are cases out there to let you bring along your e-li­brary no mat­ter where you’re go­ing.

To find the right one, think care­fully about what your needs are. If you have a full-color touch­screen tablet such as the Kin­dle Fire or Gal­axy Tab 4 NOOK — any e-reader you can watch a movie on — then you’ll want some­thing sub­stan­tial to keep it safe from the el­e­ments.

To get full pro­tec­tion, look for cases rem­i­nis­cent of the shock­proof, wa­ter-re­sis­tant ac­ces­sories you see for smart­phones. A strong case should have two lines of de­fense: an in­ner shell to cra­dle the de­vice it­self; and a stronger outer layer of pro­tec­tion, of­ten made of foam. Or if you want to avoid a case al­to­gether, check out the Kobo Aura H2O, a 6.8-touch­screen e-reader that is fully wa­ter­proof, ac­cord­ing to its maker.

Many durable smart­phone case mak­ers, such as Ot­ter­Box or Gum­drop’s Drop Tech line, also make cases for tablets. Most are shock­proof and should pro­tect against sand. These tend to cost be­tween $50 and $100. They’ll add bulk to your de­vice, of course, but the pres­sure to have a beach-ready body shouldn’t ex­tend to your tablet, any­way.

If you’re plan­ning on tak­ing an e-reader aboard a boat or float­ing lounge chair, check to make sure the case is wa­ter-re­sis­tant be­fore you buy. The key thing to look for is cov­ers for

any charg­ing or head­phone ports. Those lit­tle flaps, if sealed well, will go a long way to­ward sav­ing your tech if it takes a sur­prise dunk. They also help with keep­ing sand away from the in­side of your de­vices. (On the cheap, elec­tri­cal tape over the ports will work, too.)

For e-ink read­ers — think Ama­zon’s Kin­dle Paper­white or the NOOK Glow­Light — there are cheaper op­tions. There’s also a broader mar­ket for wa­ter­proof cov­ers from com­pa­nies such as Over­Board and BeachBuoy. These cases, priced be­tween $15 and $30, are like air­tight flota­tion de­vices to keep your e-reader safe in the event of a wa­ter land­ing.

There’s also the “life­hack” method: a clear, air­tight plas­tic bag. Low-tech? Sure. But it’s cheap and gets the job done. This will work best with e-read­ers that have phys­i­cal but­tons and/or use e-ink tech­nol­ogy rather than a full-color touch­screen. Some read­ers track move­ment by de­tect­ing screen pres­sure, while oth­ers sense your bare fin­ger touch­ing the screen. A plas­tic bag should work with both but will in­ter­fere more with the bare fin­ger. This is not a “case” that you should stress-test too much, but the clear plas­tic bag is a pretty good op­tion for peo­ple who are more into hang­ing out near the pool rather than in it.

Re­gard­less of the case you choose, if wa­ter­proof­ing is your pri­mary need, test your case be­fore you head to the beach. The best way to do this is to put a piece of pa­per in the case and seal it up tight. Then dunk the whole thing un­der wa­ter. If you make it through that test with­out any wet spots, you’re in good shape.

None of these cases, though, will pro­tect you against the per­ils of heat and di­rect sun­light. Heat can cause se­ri­ous, if of­ten tem­po­rary, dam­age to your de­vices. This is a greater risk for tablet-like e-read­ers (and phones, for that mat­ter), but over­heat­ing is bad for all elec­tron­ics.

Keep­ing your de­vice in the shade is the best de­fense. Even keep­ing it un­der a dry towel or beach chair will help. Or bring an ex­tra cooler with no ice or wa­ter in it. If your de­vice over­heats, take the case off and let it cool back to room tem­per­a­ture be­fore you fid­dle with it again.

And a fi­nal tip: No mat­ter what you de­cide, put your e-reader in its case be­fore you get to the beach. Bet­ter yet, do it at home, be­fore you pack and while you’re on dry, solid land.

If your de­vice does get dunked, avoid the temp­ta­tion to get out the hair dryer. The best thing to do is to be pa­tient, pat the de­vice as dry as you can and let it sit overnight in a bowl of rice or kitty lit­ter to dra­wout the wa­ter. Wait as long as you can to try to turn it back on, for the best chances of a full re­cov­ery.

JOHNER IM­AGES/GETTY IM­AGES/JOHNER RF

COUR­TESY OF OT­TER­BOX

Ot­ter­Box, which makes cases for smart­phones, also pro­vides pro­tec­tors for tablets that are shock­proof and pro­tect against sand.

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