May 2, 2012
© Jaymi Heimbuch
The Millions has
a great write-up of the real impact of e-readers. Despite the notion that if
you read enough books on them, they'll have a lighter footprint than printed
books, the reality is something less appealing altogether.
"Necessarily, the increased consumption
of print and digital books has led to an ever-increasing demand for the
materials required to create, transport, and store them. In the case of eBooks,
though, vast amounts of materials are also necessary for the eReaders
themselves, and this is something typically overlooked by proponents of
digitization: the material costs are either ignored, or, more misleadingly,
they’re classified as the byproduct of the tech industry instead of the book
industry... In other words: the carbon footprint of the digital book industry
is mostly growing in addition to, not to the detriment of, the growing carbon
footprint of the print book industry."
The analysis Nick Moran performs to determine just how bad the carbon
footprint of the e-reader industry is provides us with some interesting
"That eReader, then, accounts for an
initial carbon footprint 200-250% greater than your typical household library,
and it increases every time you get a new eReader for Christmas, or every time
the latest Apple Keynote lights a fire in your wallet. Also, these figures
simply calculate the impact one person’s consumption has on the environment. If
you live in a household with multiple eReaders — say, one for your husband and
one for your daughter, too — your family’s carbon emissions are more than
600-750% higher per year than they would be if you invested in a bunch of
bookshelves or, better yet, a library card."
Unless you are both an incredibly avid reader
as well as someone who cares for their gadgets and does not replace or upgrade
to new models, e-readers just simply don't live up to the lighter footprint
they promise. Instead, we should stick with our library cards.
you want a well-written reality check about reading, the footprint of the book
industry, and the unfortunate truth about e-readers, you really want to read this article. It's worth the energy your laptop/smart
phone/tablet uses while you're reading. I promise.