E-readers, Are they Green?

tablet publishingWith the varied number of E-Reader devices like the Amazon Kindle, et al. coming to market in more and more numbers it now becoming difficult to understand which reading option is actually more environmentally friendly than the typical paper and cardboard book.

By the end of 2011, Amazon announced it was selling one million kindles a week, and Apple said it had sold over 40 million iPads. Consequently, eBooks accounted for 31% of U.S. book sales by 2012. By 2025, eBooks are forecasted to comprise around 75 per cent of the total market.

The amount of paper used for books in one year was estimated at 1.5 million metric tons, and each book produced gave off an estimated 8.85 pounds of carbon dioxide. Study groups have found that the carbon released from eBooks is offset after people read more than 14 eBooks.

The National Geographic has estimated that it takes 14 e-books to produce as much carbon as is the one needed to produce a paper book. The e-readers would be more environmentally responsible choice only if you are reading in excess of 23 books per year.

A New study finds that e-readers could have a major impact on improving the sustainability and environmental impact on the publishing industry, one of the world’s most polluting sectors. The printed book not only uses paper, but also requires a lot of water and energy. There are also other environmental impacts when storing and shipping physical books. E-Readers use resources, of course, but by displaying many books and newspapers, their overall footprint is lower. National Geographic in April 2012 stated that “The steady rise of eBooks would benefit the environment by reducing use of paper and ink, and by slashing transportation, warehouse, and shelf-space limits.”

According to this Article, The Book Industry Environmental Council had set environmental goals for the U.S. book industry with the calculation of the industry’s total greenhouse gas emissions from 2006, The members of BIEC (Book Industry Environmental Council) pledged to reduce the industry’s carbon footprint by 20% in 2020 and by 80% in 2050.

According to this Article, With America, Australia, India and the UK being the most rapid adopters of digital reading devices, the e-books still only represent small fraction of the world book market. This is due to factors such as availability of technology, reliable internet connections, and disposable income of people.

Soft Pedia News states that simple by producing and retailing one book is responsible for producing about 3.85 kg of carbon emissions, whereas iPads only produce about 0.0025 kg of carbon emissions per hour of use. Please visit this Apple link for more information.

The potential downside of the eBook revolution is the decline of the local bookstores but there are also a number of other factors that could be affecting these local stores like competition from major online retailers and changing consumer habits.

By 3D Issue