Rugged and maybe even water-proof—that’s how I like my own e-reader cases or those for my phones. I’m strictly utilitarian about cases and covers. But not everyone feels that way, and if you want your cover to look like an old leathery book, then check out Book Riot.

For $40, Kindle owners can even buy a cover made to look like Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. Of course, if you really want to be cool, you can then go on to Project Gutenberg and download the real thing. Among the offerings featured in Book Riot, that’s the only pseudo-book with a title. Sooner or later, will someone work out a deal with David Foster Wallace’s estate to do pseudo-books of all his creations?

The Book Riot item reminds me of the passage in The Great Gatsby, where a drunk checks out Gatsby’s library and marvels that the books are real. At least pseudo-covers are an improvement. After all, we’ll assume that if you go for a pseudo-cover, you in fact own a real e-reader, and if that’s the, er, case, then you’re reading a book of some kind even if it isn’t on the Theory of Relativity.

Detail: Book Riot tells how the children’s novel Ella Enchanted “basically predicted the e-reader” some 18 years ago, with mentions of a magic paper book that changed the stories. Ugh, a lot of people got there earlier. I was hardly the first, but in August 1992 in Computerworld, I was calling for “TeleReaders,” iPad-like devices optimized for display of books. Of course, unlike the magic book in Ella, the proposed TeleReader could not pick up on the mood of the owner in choosing the stories. That much I’ll grant Ella. Perhaps TeleReader 2 can include a mix of AI and ESP.


  1. In 1988, Greg Bear, newly-elected president of the Science Fiction Writers of America, gave a speech to the assembled membership during the Nebula Awards Weekend in Hollywood. He told us that e-books were right around the corner, and publishers were already writing clauses into contracts to grab up those rights and make reversion clauses obsolete. He urged us to retain e-rights wherever possible while we still could, because the face of publishing was going to change in some major ways very soon.

  2. There have been TeleRead articles about early predictions of e-books. Ben Bova’s Cyberbooks was a riotously funny satire on the publishing industry (uncannily prescient, too, given how the incumbent publishers did everything they could to kill off the electronic reader lest it threaten their paper book market). It’s now an e-book itself, by the way. And then there was Niven & Pournelle’s The Mote in God’s Eye, which featured pocket computers that were effectively smartphones.

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