09 July 2009

Ebooks and the green movement

In a recent Forrester Research report, the following timeline was outlined for the e-reader market:

2007-2009 Early adopters
2009-2011 More mainstream consumers buy e-readers as features like animation, content ports to other wireless devices become a reality. The US$199 price point is breached
2011 and beyond: video and colour make their appearance and the much anticipated US$99 price point becomes a reality
2013-2020 The green movement drives e-reader usage.

This last point was an interesting one and when I mentioned it to a colleague, the first word out of his mouth was "bollocks". How much recycling is happening with old computer and other technological devices now? A book left on a street will eventually break down. Books can be pulped. Etc Etc.

The most recent Frankfurt Book Fair newsletter had a special link: how green are e-books really? They noted one catchy slogan being used by a manufacturer is "Easy on the eyes, easy on the environment". The newsletter goes on to say "One thing is obvious: no forests have to be cut down for the production of electronic books and the e-readers to go with them - which is an important factor. The American book industry alone consumes 1.5 million tonnes of paper annually. Around 70 per cent of CO2 emissions caused by the industry come from paper production: the production of one book involves the emission of around four kilos of CO2. This was discovered by a study whose results were issued last year by the Green Press Initiative (GPI) and The Book Industry Study Group (BISG)."

They then go on to advise no official studies have been done to compare the ecobalance between electronic and printed books. "Focusing on the paper problem alone means forgetting that a great deal of energy is also needed for the production of e-book readers - the manufacture of a PC, for example, produces approx. 1,850 kilos of CO2. In addition, dubious materials such as mercury and bromine are also used."

I'll keep my eye out on further environmental studies but I'd be interested in other people's thoughts on this. Will the green movement drive e-reader usage or not?

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