If there's one thing you'll never find on a submarine, it's a large bookshelf. Not even one of the purty ones we recently looked at. While submariners eventually have downtime and could do with some literary diversions, a submarine is perhaps the ultimate exercise in space-saving; there simply isn't enough room to store a good selection of books.
So an iPad, you think, would be perfect. Even the 16GB model could store plenty of tomes that sailors could share while taking up a minimum of space. But the problem with the iPad is that it's got WiFi and bluetooth, and you don't want something transmitting or receiving signals that enemy subs could potentially pick up or infect with viruses.
That's why the U.S. Navy developed the Naval eReader Device, or NeRD for short (we're not kidding). Created in conjunction with technology product firm Findaway World, the NeRD is completely secure from foreign hacking--because it contains no WiFi, bluetooth or even any physical ports (though we assume there's at least one to charge it). There is no way to get any files off of it, or onto it. Roughly 300 books are pre-loaded onto the device as it's manufactured, so sailors are stuck with "popular eBook titles" handpicked by the Navy General Library Program's Morale, Welfare and Recreation staffers.
Which is not to say all the titles are stuffy: Alongside Shakespeare and Jane Austen, more fantasy-minded sailors will be able to read the "Game of Thrones" and "Lord of the Rings" canons. There's even some sci-fi, some Stephen King and some Swedish detective lit on there in the form of "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo." One book that we assume isn't on the list is "Das Boot."
Each U.S. Navy submarine will get five of the NeRDs, meaning the eReaders will likely prove popular. And once the sub fleet is kitted out, the NeRDs will then be rolled out to the rest of the fleet.