There has been a real interest shown in electronic book readers of late, even to the point of some industry experts predicting that these new generation of digital book readers will result in eBook sales eventually overtaking those of paperback and hardback copy. If that is to be the case, with thinking being more towards eco friendly, carbon neutrality and generally protecting the environment, it needs to be asked, “Will these digital eBook reader devices be good for the environment.”
It needs to be pointed out that the introduction of electronic book readers into the home, school, collage and university facilities across the globe would result, in the short term at least, in an instant benefit. Less natural resources and raw material used, such as wood for the paper, gas for the production of the book and the ink used in the printing process, is the first area to be addressed, but when you look further into it, the savings to the environment can be far greater in the long term.
Let’s start by saying, this is not about online shopping, it is about digital production and delivery. With online shopping the product still has to be delivered to your door, even after the possible thousands of miles it has traveled prior to that, but digital deliver is just that. No last mile delivery, no storage, in fact, very minimal impact on the environment no matter what continent you order it from.
To get to this point, the technology has to be available to more people, or should I say affordable to more people. Yes we know, historically new technology is always more expensive when it first appears, but it seems to me that the electronic book readers manufacturers are missing a rather big trick here. If these devices were more affordable to the masses then the masses would embrace them and when that happens we will be in the realms of serious benefits to the environment.
The way things had been going , eat-paper was only perceived as a temporary alterative to printed paper, a way of receiving your purchase instantly but never a replacement for hard copy. This stemmed from the short comings of eat-paper in the early days of Digital Book Readers, hard to read, bad contrast and short battery life, but this has changed. With the advent of eat-ink paper technology came the answer to those problems, exceptional battery life from the improved contrast and a real paper like quality to the screen background and a text that can be read in the strongest of sunlight.
Those advancements have pushed electronic book readers right to the edge of a quantum leap into the mainstream. Authors are starting to publish straight to the eBook format at launch. Two of the most famous authors to have done this are Stephen King and Dan Browne, both released their ebooks at the time of launch of the Kindle2 and Sony Edition range of eat-book readers paving the way that others will follow in greater numbers.
As the Green Press Initiative have reported that the US alone is responsible for the use of twenty million trees every year for book production alone. Then add to that the reported ninety five million (95,000,000) trees used in the newspaper industry every year, you can see how, if reading devices become the norm, that these numbers can be reduced quite considerably.
We are all getting more conscious recycling wise but at one point, the GPI stated that landfills held 25% of paper products omitting, through decomposition, toxic greenhouse gas methane. Not all that pollutant is from the disposal of book admittedly, but carbon dioxide produced during printing and production of hard copy is. Over 12 million tons of carbon dioxide are produced annually from the production of traditional books, and you can guess where that ends up. That equates to a shockingly on-Co Friendly nine pounds of carbon dioxide for every book produced not taking into account carbon produced from transport or premises.
Neither taken into account is the immeasurable amount of carbon produced through illegal deforestation that is occurring globally. Much of the timber from these areas could end up in paper used for printing, who knows. Then there is the scars left on many landscapes through out the country from legitimate logging operations, tropical forests in Indonesia lose four and a half million acres, the Boreal forest Canada two million acres annually, with two thirds ending up as paper for reading or writing and over six million acres of forest in America’s South Eastern region going the same way.
All the above environmental disasters can and would be greatly helped if electronic book readers do in dead take that leap. As you can see from the areas highlighted above, digital eBook readers do have a big part to play in the protection of raw materials, natural resources and the ultimately environment but only if we allow them to.