Monday, May 24, 2010

Are e-books green? No open and shut case
By Claire McEntee -
24/05/2010 - DomPost

Experts are at odds over whether Whitcoulls' launch of e-books this week will be good or bad for the environment.

From Thursday, two million e-books will be available from the Whitcoulls website.
Photo - Robert Kitchin/The Dominion Pos

Whitcoulls will also sell the Kobo e-reader, a device designed for reading electronic books, but the e-books can be downloaded and read on personal computers, smartphones such as the iPhone and tablet devices such as the iPad.

A study by United States research and media firm Cleantech Group found carbon emissions from electronic books were far lower than from traditional book publishing. On average, the carbon emitted in the lifecycle of an Amazon Kindle e-reader would be fully offset after the first year of use, and any additional years of use would result in net carbon savings of about 168 kilograms of carbon dioxide a year, it said. That assumed people would otherwise buy 22 new books a year.

However, the study found e-readers were not squeaky clean. Production of a Kindle created 168kg of carbon dioxide compared with 7.46kg for a book. But e-readers also require electricity to run and are not as environmentally friendly to dispose of as paper-based books.
A New York Times "life-cycle assessment" of books and e-readers found traditional books were by far the greener option.
Full piece at DomPost.

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