E-book craze

E-book craze

1 July, 2012
Sustainable clever
Digital reading hits bookshelves

It’s no surprise that traditional printed books have a significant carbon footprint, with the resources required for manufacturing, distribution and disposal. Many believe that with the emergence of e-books, resources such as water, paper and ink as well as the energy used to transport and store books can be reduced. For Hong Kongers, this e-books also mean less space needed for bookshelves in already-cramped apartments. The idea of the modern e-book was born as early as the 1970s. Project Gutenberg, founded by Michael Hart in 1971 in the United States, is a digital library project that encourages the creation and distribution of e-books. There are over 30,000 files that you can download free to your computer or e-book. Affiliated projects have also been created in Europe, the Philippines, Australia and elsewhere. The popular e-book reader ‘Kindle’ from Amazon has shown the tremendous success of this disruptive technology. The first version of the Kindle was launched in November 2007 and had sold 500,000 units by the end of 2008. The newer models boast a sleeker look with a metal back. Amazon currently provides more than 400,000 books and 100 newspapers and magazines on the Kindle. Sony’s ‘Reader’ has also created presence in the market. Sony was an early believer in e-books, before the first version of Kindle was created. The Sony Reader has a touch screen as well as keyboard version. Since Sony is partnering with Google, users can access about 500,000 public titles from Google Books. Barnes & Nobles’ Plastic Logic has launched an e-reader, Que, that is thinner than a pad of paper and also includes wireless and 3G connectivity. For a more environmentally friendly option, LG has designed a reader that is powered by solar energy… they also offer a bendable e-reader that resembles a newspaper, mimicking the feel of a traditional reading experience.
For the next generation of e-readers, consumers will be looking for a number of improvements in areas such as colour and contrast, touch-screens, shatterproof capabilities, and software interface. While there is an environmental impact in the creation of e-books in the first place, as well as a certain amount of electricity that goes into using them, a study done by the Cleantech Group showed that switching to use of e-books could yield significant carbon savings; to make one ereader like Kindle releases 168 kg of CO2, while a book uses 7.48 kg of CO2. In other words after reading about 23 ebooks, you start saving on CO2 release. In 2008, book and newspaper industries in the United States alone harvested 125 million trees. With estimated sales going up to $14.4 million by 2012, we will soon have a clearer picture of the potential impact of e-books on the publishing world and on the environment.
Image via: http://www.fixtwit.com/tag/amazon-kindle/

By: Ecozine Staff


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