For holidays that entail little more than lazing by the pool or on the beach, the question of reading material can be a head-scratcher.

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In the Florida Keys, two hotels are offering their guests reading material from an underwater library. Image: The Keys Collection / Highgate Hotels

Do you pack a stack of paperbacks to flip through with wet fingers and leave when you’re done, bring your e-reader and hope you don’t drop it in the drink, or open your wallet and spring for the latest waterproof model, just to be safe? 

As it turns out, if you’re bound for Florida, you could just have another option: a lending library that’s completely in the tank for its guests. Wedged between neighboring properties in Key West, this aquarium—complete with anthropomorphic clam—is filled with waterproof books, just waiting to be borrowed. These aren’t your average beach reads, either. Part of the Keys Collection, 24° North Hotel and The Gates Hotel are providing their guests with some highbrow literary options, from Shakespeare’s Macbeth to W. B. Yeats’ Cloths of Heaven to a selection of Mark Twain short stories. 

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Made from polypropylene and rigorously tested with different water temps and soap types, the books are completely submersible. Image: The Keys Collection / Highgate Hotels

The books come courtesy of an Amsterdam-based brand called Bibliobath, whose founders conceived the concept in 2015 and got it backed on Kickstarter that same year. After multiple rounds of testing—not just the synthetic paper, but also the binding and the ink—at different water temperatures and with different soap types, the books were ultimately made from polypropylene, which, as the Kickstarter campaign detailed, “is fully waterproof but feels like real paper at a thickness of just 0.085 mm.” But no trees were harmed in the making, and the books themselves are not only waterproof and tear-resistant but fully recyclable as well. (“In case it is incinerated with the trash it will be completely burned without any toxic byproducts,” the Kickstarter says.)

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The library has highbrow fare on offer from Shakespeare, Yates, Mark Twain, and Sun Zi. Image: The Keys Collection / Highgate Hotels

Sure, the books are available for purchase on the company's site, but the Keys Collection's underwater library lets guests try them out in the cabana or by the pool for free. Between that, the daily live music, and a partnership with local factory Kino Sandals, which offers hotel guests one-hour sandal delivery for just US$20 (€18), there’s little reason to venture away from the pool—but at least now you won’t have to worry about your reading material getting soaked by an errant splash. 

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