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BY NICO VREELAND

Ever since my first Sony Reader took a powder, I’ve been looking for a case that delivered more protection than aesthetics. I wanted something that would absorb a sharp blow, a case tough enough that I won’t worry about my ereader when I sling my bookbag around.

Unfortunately, nobody seems to want to make a case like this. My PRS-505 and BeBook both came with covers, but neither are rigid. My first Sony, the PRS-700, broke inside just such a soft cover, inside my backpack.

So I decided to repurpose some other kind of case, which turned out to be a whole lot more trouble than I thought it would be.

Here are three DIY options for hard cases that will give your ereader enough protection to survive anything short of being run over. Complete picture gallery at the bottom of this post.

THE METAL CIGAR BOX ($30+)

PROS: Unequalled style.

CONS: Expensive, large. Takes the most doing

Originally, I imagine finding a metal case of some kind, lining it with felt, and having it fit perfectly around my ereader. The problem is that there’s really no case out there as thin as an ereader—most ereaders are 1/2″ thick or less—so while I found cases that were doable in terms of length and width, they were often two or three inches thick, which is a really obnoxious compromise to make.

This cigar box was the thinnest thing I found, at just over an inch. That still meant I had to lay down several layers of quarter-inch neoprene to get the ereader to fit inside snugly, without jostling.

Ultimately, the cigar box solution is my favorite hard case: it’s got the most personality, and the best dimensions for the job.

THE JEWELRY BOX (ca. $10)

PROS: Cheaper, snug fit from the jump.

CONS: Ugly as sin. Bigger than is comfortable.

A ring box like this one has a perfectly sized interior for a Sony Reader. The major problem is that it’s hideous (check out the gallery below for a glimpse of its bizarre, faux-alligator skin exterior). It also happens to be enormous, nearly three inches thick. And it only really protects one side. That’s fine functionally—I can put the Reader in face-down, and the screen is the only thing that really needs protection. Aesthetically, however, that plexiglass front just looks weird.

The form factor is what will makes this options most repugnant. It’s got too big and awkward a profile to fit neatly in my bag, and it would need to be as slim as possible to offset its ugliness.

THE DVD ENVELOPE (ca. $2)

PROS: Cheap and easy.

CONS: Pretty ugly, too. Might accidentally mail this thing to nowhere.

This is the most trouble-free way to go, but there are obvious design drawbacks. It’s also not technically a hard case, but I have faith that inside this mailer my ereader could be dropped or kicked without cracking the screen.

If you’re the kind of person who has milk crates for bookshelves and wears a tie for a belt, this kind of UPS-guy chic might be just the thing.

For the rest of us, it’s a passable, easy way to afford your ereader some protection until some enterprising company finally realizes that some people (at least me) are in the market for a low profile hard case that will guarantee screen protection.

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