E-readers: My Personal Alexandria, Now Less Flammable!, by ASC

Imagine that you wake up one glorious morning, except you discover that it has hit the fan. You wake up in a brand new world, filled with dangers and struggles that did not exist the day before. Depending on how you have prepared, you may be bugging out to your pre-determined bug out location, or you may be bugging in and locking down your primary home and using it as your shelter as you move forward in this dangerous new world.

You are fully stocked with enough food, water, and other supplies for a long while. However, Murphy’s Law will always be present, and within hours, days, or weeks, a situation may arise that you had not planned for. Perhaps your water source has been compromised. Maybe your stored food has gone bad and must be replaced. It could be possible that a family member has developed a medical issue for which you do not have the correct, conventional medications to treat. The list of potential issues is endless.

At some point in this post-SHTF world, you WILL be faced with a situation that you have not prepared for. How will you deal with this issue? How will you gain the experience or knowledge required to fix it? You will not be able to get a repairman, doctor, or blacksmith out to your homestead to fix whatever is broken. In order to take care of a problem yourself, if you need to learn about a specific that you had not learned in a pre-SHTF world, it will also be much more difficult to obtain that knowledge at that point. Libraries will be abandoned, bookstores will be closed, and experts will no longer be readily available. You’ll need a library of information available to provide the guidance and knowledge that you require.

In a post-SHTF world, there are going to be so many necessary skills needed that it will be practically impossible to learn, through application and practice, everything that a survivor would need to know ahead of time. Therefore, an E-reader would allow you to store documents needed for this new world.

Why an E-reader?

I have always been a book lover. I am constantly in the middle of a book. I have started to use an E-reader. While my E-reader– a Kindle Fire– has been great for me, there are many other models available. All of the guidance below can be useful, regardless of the specific model of E-reader used.

Once the decision is made to start preparing for the inevitable, many of us recognize that we will need to keep copies of first aid manuals, foraging references, as well as a host of other reference materials to help us survive.

As I started to put together a list of these reference materials, I quickly realized that keeping paper copies of this information is going to be very heavy, take up a significant amount of space, and be very difficult to carry around on a regular basis. It is effectively impossible.

Then it hit me. Why not use an E-reader to serve as a library? An E-reader can contain hundreds of e-books. An E-reader isn’t just for e-books, either. Depending on the capabilities of your specific model, you can also load up maps, Adobe Acrobat files, photographs, and anything else that you consider important.

Unlike a regular book, an E-reader has its own downfalls. How do you keep it powered in a post-SHTF environment? How do you keep it waterproof? What about the possibility of an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) rendering it useless? These concerns will be addressed later in this article.

Where to get Ebooks?

The Weekend Prepper website, theweekendprepper.com, put together a fantastic article on how to find free books for a Kindle. While these instructions are specific to a Kindle, a person who uses their iPad or any other tablet can download and use the free Kindle Reader app. This software is available for all Apple and Android smart phones and tablets.

Paraphrased From the Weekend Prepper Article:

Amazon publishes a bestseller list for the Kindle every day. These books are not specifically for preppers or anyone else. There is a gold mine of options though, depending upon your particular interests.

How to search for free Kindle books

  1. Go to the main Kindle ebook page.
  2. Use the search box at the top of the page and type in your search terms. Enter, in the Search field, whatever topic you wish to have more information on. Some ideas include: prepping, first aid, essential oils, survival, water storage, et cetera.
  3. Click on the Go button.
  4. Now that you have a list of all the books related to your specific search, you will need to sort your results to find the ones that are currently free.

    • On the top right of the page, you will see a pull down box labeled Sort by: Go to that box and select Price: Low to High.
    • Once you do that, you will have a list of all the books related to your search, with the ones at the top of the list being the ones you can download for free.

As of the date of writing this article, there are over 25 free books when I searched for “prepping”. There are over 100 free e-books when searching for “survival”.

The pool of available free books changes frequently. Figure out what topic you want more information on, and take a few minutes every few days to perform a few searches. Over time you can build up a great collection of reference books at no cost to you. Even if you stumble across a must-have book that never seems to be made available for free, most kindle books can be purchased for a very modest investment of a few dollars, which is a small price to pay for a valuable resource.

It should be noted that “you get what you pay for” most of the time. Many of these free e-books are barely the size of a pamphlet. Some ebooks I have downloaded are less than 30 pages long. Many of these free “ebooks” have information that can be found elsewhere. While some of these smaller eBook may have valuable guidance, you may be able to find identical information in larger, more comprehensive books.

There are many possible subjects that you may want more information on. Downloading a book on “Building the Perfect Bug Out Bag,” may not be needed, if you have already learned and prepared one. The focus of these e-books should be to develop a library of books to provide guidance on performing tasks that you are not already familiar with. The focus should also be on obtaining reference materials to provide guidance you are unable to obtain otherwise.

I will admit that I have some printed reference materials, but these are quite minimal. I do have an emergency first aid reference that I keep with my first aid kit. I have an Essential Oil reference with my EOs. I have paper copies of road maps as well. Other than these documents, everything else is loaded onto my e-reader.

What About Other Documents?

While it is relatively easy to develop a library of actual eBooks, there are many other resources available. In addition to these ebooks, one can load other documents that would be viewable on their E-reader. I have found many resources for free Adobe Acrobat files. Some of my favorite resources include, http://urbansurvivalsite.com/ebooks/ and http://www.armageddononline.org/disaster-prep-help.html. Together, both sites have thousands of documents available related to prepping, including many Army Field manuals, first aid, food storage documents, and documents covering many other subjects.

Maps: Having copies of topographic maps loaded could potentially be a life saver. The U.S. Geological Survey runs a store where one can download many topographic maps free of charge. The website, store.usgs.gov, is the starting point for these searches. It would be helpful to have maps available covering the area from your current home to any and every possible Bug Out location available to you.

Whatever else you wish to load onto your e-reader, once downloaded to your computer, it is just a simple matter of transferring the documents to your E-reader through the charging cord. With my Kindle, I also have an assigned email address that I can wirelessly deliver these documents to the device from any email address.

I have also loaded a number of family pictures on my e-reader. I can use these pictures for a variety of purposes, including reminiscing. I can imagine, in a long post-SHTF environment, that family photos would be quite a treasure, despite their impracticality.

Protection from the Elements?

Waterproofing an E-reader can be done in a variety of ways. There are a number of cases available that provide the protection required. Personally, I am skeptical of these integrated cases. Since there are ports for charging and headphones through the case to the device itself, I worry that these openings would not provide protection 100% of the time. After use, if I neglected to properly seat the seal into the hole, water could enter and destroy my device.

My preference would be for a strong, resealable waterproof bag to store the E-reader in. When I needed it, I could remove the device and then replace it when I am done. I do acknowledge that if I didn’t seal it back properly, this plan could fail. This option seems to be the superior choice for me personally.

We deal with the elements regularly, but there will be a number of concerns specific to a post-SHTF world. How do we address recharging the device when the grid is down? How do we keep our E-reader safe from an electromagnetic pulse (EMP)?

Recharging our E-reader in a Post-SHTF world?

To address the recharging needs of our E-reader, solar-sourced energy is probably going to be the best bet. There are a number of portable solar chargers available on the market today. Being the cheapskate that I am, I am building my own using this plan: http://www.instructables.com/id/Solar-USB-Phone-Charger-with-Battery-Backup/. If DIY isn’t your thing, you can find over 60,000 results on Amazon.com when searching for a Solar USB charger. There are other options for post-SHTF recharging as well, such as wind or hydroelectric, which are beyond the scope of this article. (Check out other SurvivalBlog articles for this information.)

What about an Electro-Magnetic Pulse (EMP)?

From Wikipedia: An electromagnetic pulse (EMP), also sometimes called a transient electromagnetic disturbance, is a short burst of electromagnetic energy. Such a pulse may occur in the form of a radiated electric or magnetic field or conducted electrical current depending on the source, and may be natural or man-made.

EMP interference is generally damaging to electronic equipment, and at higher energy levels a powerful EMP event such as a lightning strike can damage physical objects such as buildings and aircraft structures. The management of EMP effects is an important branch of electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) engineering.

An electromagnetic pulse (EMP) is a concern and is certainly within the realm of possibility. When compared to all of the other potential SHTF scenarios, it is much less likely that we will need to deal with an EMP in comparison to all of the other things that could cause the end of the world as we know it (TEOTWAWKI).

However, we are preppers! We always try to consider all of the variables and find a way to address every potentiality.

To “harden” your E-reader for the possibility of an EMP, a simple Faraday Cage could be employed. A Faraday cage shields the interior of the cage against external electromagnetic radiation. There are many inexpensive options available to the prepper:

  1. An unplugged microwave oven.
  2. Metal garbage can with a tight fitting lid.
  3. A Booster bag, commonly used by shoplifters to steal items with RFID chips. The Bag is lined with aluminum foil to electronically seal the RFID chip inside so it does not alert store security.
  4. A cardboard box, properly covered in aluminum foil.

There are hundreds of plans online for building your own simple Faraday Cage.

Based on the very small likelihood that it will be an EMP that causes TEOTWAWKI, many preppers do not use a Faraday Cage. I am guilty of this, as much as anyone. Considering the ease of putting one together and the potential loss of information, I would challenge you (and me) to make a Faraday cage part of your preps. Inside, I would also keep my solar charger, a USB thumb drive with all of my important documents scanned and copied. I’d also store any radios or any other electronic devices that are vulnerable to an EMP.

How would you add documents to an E-reader in a Faraday Cage?

If an E-reader is constantly stored in a Faraday cage, it will be impossible to update the device with any new documents or eBooks. On your own schedule, you could remove the device from the Faraday cage and power it up. Once the device is powered, you can start the download process for all of the nifty prepper documents that you wish to install on the device.

As long as the device is out of the Faraday Cage, the device is vulnerable to an EMP. For maximum protection, the device should always be stored inside the Faraday Cage.

In Closing

In my esteem, an E-reader is an absolute necessity for prepping. Why?

  1. I am not smart or talented enough to know everything I may need to know in a post-SHTF world.
  2. I don’t have enough time to learn it all, either. Between working and raising a family, there are barely enough hours in the day.
  3. I do not have the resources or ability to keep paper copies of all of the information I may need.

In a post-SHTF world, knowledge will be a very valuable resource. My E-reader will become my personal reference tool. I have it stocked with books, maps, plans, and much more. If I am faced with a scenario I am unfamiliar with, I will hopefully have reference materials on my E-reader to address the situation at hand.


How to find eBooks:

Free Adobe Acrobat Documents Related to Prepping: http://urbansurvivalsite.com/ebooks/

EMP Information: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electromagnetic_pulse

Faraday Cages: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faraday_cage