Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Books v. E-Readers

Original Source
I found this infographic over at The Everyday Minimalist.  She was curious about the environmental impact of books in print versus books available on e-readers, taking into consideration the impact of the e-reader itself.  She found her answer on Slate.  Turns out, although an individual e-reader's carbon footprint is much larger than a single book's, once you have read about 20 electronic books, the e-reader wins, hands down.  (The math gets more complicated when you buy used books that are passed on, but in the long run e-readers are still better).

The only other way to reduce the carbon footprint of reading is to use your local library.  I think an even better solution is to use your local library to check out e-books.  Good for the environment, good for your pocketbook.

Although it's much better for the environment to read electronic books, I still like the feel of paper books in my hands.  But I am trying to make the switch.


Adrienne said...

Very interesting. I did not know you could check out ereader books at the library. I will have to ask my local library about that.

I have had an iPad for about 2 or 3 years and am just recently getting used to reading books on it. Initially, I would buy a book, then read a few chapters, then forget about it. It wasn't laying around like a real book, reminding me to pick it up and stick my nose in it! But maybe that has more to do with the book I was reading - it wasn't capturing my attention very well.

I still like the feel of a book in my hands, as you do, but as far as taking a book with me to an appointment or while traveling, you just can't beat the convenience and transportability of an ereader.

I still use the library but I often don't have time to finish the books I pick up there which is frustrating.

Thanks for the information on this topic, Cherie!

Anonymous said...

This article is incredibly flawed, however, as it doesn't take into account the toxic chemicals used to make the e-readers. While carbon emissions might appear lower, the NY Times reports "One e-reader requires the extraction of 33 pounds of minerals." Yikes.

I exclusively buy used books and go to the library - have for years, no reason to buy new! And this will always be less than new books or e-readers :)

Funny how no one had a problem "transporting" books around and now suddenly it's inconvenient because there is something a bit smaller.

Cherie said...

Adrienne, not all libraries have e-books available. The problem I have with library e-books is when they expire, rather than being able to keep them and pay a late fee, you just no longer have access to them.

Ecogrrl, a very valid point - I should have given it more thought, especially after my post about blood minerals. Another problem with e-readers is that they become obsolete and you're forced to buy another one. I don't have access to a good bookstore - or a very large library - so I either have to drive to a larger city for books, have books shipped to me (even shipping used ones has a big carbon impact), or use e-books from a larger library that I still have access to in Florida. But buying used books or going to the library is definitely the most eco-friendly option.

Deanna said...

David bought me a Kindle for Christmas before last. I hadn't asked for it but he knew everyone seemed to be raving about them. There are definitely things I like about it and I often find free books to add to it. However I must admit that I still like the feel of a real book. I try to get books from the library first and since I have a ridiculous number of books already I don't buy any unless I can't get them any other way or they are the sort of book I'll want to keep (research type books, classics or an author I collect).