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There are a number of hazards that can kill electronic products (water, impact). We want to take a few ebooks with us (i.e. plant & animal identification, directions, trails info, etc).

Assume non-DRM ebooks. While it is possible to purchase one copy and share it between multiple devices, there may be legal issues.

I am thinking either a micro SD card or thumb drive, would be optimal but I don't know.

Short of having copies of everything on every device, what is the storage medium that will be least likely to fail and most transferable between similar devices?

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    This would be a better fit on superuser.com – paparazzo Aug 27 '18 at 15:34
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    I've taken my mark 1 kindle on holidays every year since they came out. It has been in rain, humidity, on beaches, next to pools. It's been dropped, sat on, you name it. Works perfectly... that said, I also have a Corsair Survivor USB drive. It's "guaranteed" to survive everything! – Rory Alsop Aug 27 '18 at 15:42
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    Are there any eReaders that are going to take a full-sized USB drive? It seems like you're going to be limited to an SD card unless you're reading the books on a computer. I guess my point is the storage medium is going to be determined by the devices that use it rather than the environment. – JPhi Aug 27 '18 at 20:14
  • why do you assume that keeping a copy on a device is legally problematic, but keeping a copy on a memory card is fine ? – Rsf Aug 28 '18 at 9:30
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I would just get a waterproof case for whatever electronic device you have the books on and then a waterproof/impact resistant USB flash drive for the books.

SD cards are more breakable and prone to getting lost or misplaced than USB flash drives.

A quick price checks says you can get a

Water proof to 200M through the use of a EPDM waterproof seal Protected from vibration or impact damage through the use of a molded shock damping collar

Source

For around $20, so that seems like the way to go.

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    Bear in mind, there is no guarantee your device will survive. I rafted down the Grand Canyon over 3 weeks last november and from our group, 3 smartphones that doubled as cameras died even though they were in Lifeproof cases. I was amused that a bunch of whitewater guides going on a trip together would choose that option considering their experience. And ultimately my views were vindicated. – Gabriel C. Aug 27 '18 at 20:47
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I own a waterproof smartphone and it works as an E-book reader. I think there are also waterproof tablets, which will give you a bigger screen. I do not know whether there are waterproof dedicated e-book readers, but there might be.

Both phones and tablets usually take SD cards, although not all will take all sizes so you need to be sure you have the right size for your phone or tablet.

If you look for an older model, 'last year', you will get a machine that is way better than you need for just an e-book reader, but for a modest price.

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    While I do not believe Amazon manufactures waterproof Kindles there is a company that sells waterproofed Kindles. (Amazon's warranty is voided but they provide their own.) – Loren Pechtel Aug 27 '18 at 20:14
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    Make sure you get the right sort of waterproof. Most devices described as "waterproof" would be more accurately called "spashproof": they're protected against incidental water contact. For outdoors use, you're probably looking for something rated IP67 (can survive falling into a stream) or IP68 (can survive falling into deeper bodies of water). – Mark Aug 27 '18 at 20:29
  • @LorenPechtel Amazon's Kindle Oasis is waterproof (at least the 2nd gen is IPx8). – muru Aug 28 '18 at 5:30
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    @gerrit But Amazon devices can read non-drm books just fine, can't they? I understood the question to mean that they already own drm-free copies of the books. – Nobody Aug 28 '18 at 12:08
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    @gerrit kindles can read kindle format, PDFs and .mobi. It is important to note that they can't read epub; but you can easily use an online converter to convert your epubs to mobis and still read them DRM free. – Daniel Vestøl Aug 28 '18 at 14:24

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