Is E-Reading Really Greener?

August 2010
by Raz Godelnik

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Is E-Reading Really Greener?

by Raz Godelnik

The emergence of e-book readers, starting with the release of Amazon’s Kindle in November 2007 and through the launch of Apple’s iPad in April 2010, is changing the book industry. No doubt about that. But is it also making reading more sustainable? Is it really greener to abandon the good old print-on-paper book for a cool gadget that holds hundreds of books without causing back strain?

With publishers’ and readers’ awareness of environmental issues growing and the market share of e-books, while still very small, growing very fast, the question arises for a growing number of publishers, authors, booksellers, and readers.

Intuitively it seems like a no-brainer—with e-book readers, no paper is required; no trees are cut down; no books need to be shipped and stored. Can it get any better than that?

Well, I wish it was that simple, but it isn’t. Just like physical books, e-books that are read on the Kindle, iPad, Nook, or any other device have their ecological footprint. The question is: which option, print or digital, has a smaller footprint?

To find that out, we need to use a life cycle analysis (LCA), which evaluates the ecological impact of any product, at every stage of i…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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